Ad and Fi recommendations accepted
Council reviewed four recommendations from the administration and finance committee meeting of February 6.
Council passed a motion that the municipality send a letter to the province, Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, as well as to the Island municipalities, that states, in part, “due to the lack of fairness in assessing and implementing tax revenues from renewable energy sources, it is now time for the province to look at improving the assessment process and make the taxation system equitable to every taxpayer in the municipality.”
A second motion was passed to adopt the 2014 budget. Councillor Michael Erskine noted that the Northeast Town is the only area municipality that, in the last term, has seen the mill rate go down each of the last four years.
In a recorded vote, Councillors Michael Erskine, Dawn Orr, Marcel Gauthier, Christina Jones, Paul Skippen, Bruce Wood and Mayor Al MacNevin voted in favour of the budget, while Councillors Bill Koehler and Melissa Peters voted against the budget. Motion carried.
A motion to accept the financial reports as presented and reviewed was also passed, as was a motion to amend the procedural bylaw No. 99-36 by adding to line 45 that “any issues introduced during a delegation that requires a decision of council should be deferred to committee or the next regularly scheduled meeting of council, unless they are of an urgent nature.”
Mayor MacNevin explained that there are special clauses to override the procedural bylaw, with a majority vote of council.
Country Fest wishes granted
Craig and Kelly Timmermans of Manitoulin Country Fest were council’s only delegation of the February 18 meeting. The pair was seeking a motion of support for the following requests for Country Fest 2014: that council designate Manitoulin Country Fest an event of municipal significance; the placement of three commercial garbage bins to be used at the grounds, including three pickups, to be paid for by Country Fest; to borrow the town’s metal security fencing (if available), as well as 20 tables and 200 chairs from the recreation centre; to allow signage to be placed around Little Current, directing traffic to the site beginning Tuesday, August 5; to place a large sign for the event on the property of Jim McBane at the corner of Highway 6 and Harbour View Road on July 27; and for mayor and council to designate August 5 to 10 as Manitoulin Country Fest Week, encouraging Little Current to “go country” with their storefronts.
Motion carried with all of council in favour.
Asset Management Plan in place
Council received a copy of the hot-off-the-press asset management plan for the municipality, which keeps track of all of the municipality’s assets. Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson explained that it is a required document that will soon be needed in order to apply for all provincial grants. The municipality received over $21,000 from the province for the plan’s creation, which was done by engineering firm J.L. Richards and Associates.
Councillor Gauthier said it was interesting to note that, for example, the municipal oversees 149 kilometres of roadways.
In a motion to adopt the asset management plan, Councillor Peters opposed it and the motion carried.
Council adopts collections management policy
Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah curator Heidi Ferguson has created an extensive collections management policy for the museum for all three types of collections the museum houses: permanent, educational and research. It also lays out the policies surrounding acquisitions, personal collecting by museum staff, deaccession criteria and policy, care of collections, access to collections and their records and appraisals.
Councillor Peters asked for a recorded vote on all of the requests.
Council received a donation request from Ride Manitoulin, scheduled to take place from July 18 to 20.
Councillors Erskine, Orr, Jones, Skippen, Wood, Gauthier, Koehler and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour of the request while Councillor Peters voted against the donation. The motion to donate $100 to Ride Manitoulin was carried.
Council also received a request for donation toward the Manitoulin Rodeo in Manitowaning.
“I won’t be supporting this—it’s totally being held in Manitowaning,” said Councillor Koehler. “There’s no benefit to this municipality.”
Councillors Erskine, Orr, Jones, Skippen, Wood and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour while Councillors Gauthier, Koehler and Peters voted against the donation. A motion to donate $100 to the Manitoulin Rodeo was carried.
“I wasn’t going to vote for this until I heard the horses were from NEMI,” Mayor MacNevin quipped.
Council also heard a donation request from Alexandria Cosby who has been selected into the Forum for Young Canadians. This program will be taking place from March 2 to 7 in Ottawa where Ms. Cosby will have the opportunity to sit in on sessions of Parliament, dine with MPs and tour Rideau Hall. The Grade 10 student asked for help from council in raising the $1,000 needed to attend.
“It’s a special thing for a young lady from our municipality to go and be selected to this—representing our municipality,” Councillor Koehler said.
“You guys should go try it sometime,” Mayor MacNevin addressed his council.
“It’s refreshing to see a young person expressing an interest in politics,” Counciller Erskine added.
All, with the exception of Councillor Peters, voted in favour of a $100 donation to Ms. Cosby. Motion carried.
Gateway to Life Church also approached council, asking for the use of the recreation centre parking lot for a ‘Lovin’ Little Current’ event to be held on June 28. This will be a free carnival complete with bouncy houses and carnival games, a skateboard demonstration as well as a ‘feast.’
The council table, with the exception of Councillor Peters, voted in favour of allowing Gateway to Life Church the use of the recreation centre parking lot. Motion carried.
Manitoulin Streams wrote to council, requesting approval from the municipality to complete in-stream restoration work on Bass Lake Creek with the Little Current Fish and Game Club as part of its stream restoration initiative.
Councillor Gauthier, who is also a member of the Fish and Game Club, explained that Manitoulin Streams is looking for support and that they have an application in the works for funding for the completion of the work.
“These people have done a tremendous amount of work on Manitoulin,” Councillor Skippen added.
MPB questioned, again
After reviewing the minutes of the last Manitoulin Planning Board meeting, council questioned Application File No. B34-13 which saw consent tentatively granted to the applicants with a number of conditions, including one which states that the “schedule transfer of land form on which is set out the entire legal description of the parcel(s) and the hydro line easement for the existing hydro line, given conditional approval.”
Councillor Skippen questioned where that direction would have come from.
Mr. Williamson explained that he is not aware of any legislation that requires landowners to give hydro companies easements across their property.
A motion was passed which states: “That the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands asks the Manitoulin Planning Board to provide an explanation as to the requirement for the granting of a hydro easement as a condition of consents to sever.”
Council reviewed the minutes of the January library board meeting. Councillor Jones told members of council that there are still Art for Seniors programs carrying on into March. She also thanked the Little Current Lions Club for the donation of funds toward the collection’s large print books and audio books section, which are also utilized by the seniors’ outreach ‘book buddies’ program.
Following the review of the minutes of the Community Policing Advisory Committee meeting of December 11, Mayor MacNevin noted the minutes, which state: “Staff Sergeant Webb stated that the Island-wide Advisory Group went very well. All participated except NEMI.”
Mayor MacNevin pointed out that each year the Northeast Town hosts its own emergency planning event, including emergency scenarios. Nowhere is it stated, he said, that the municipality must participate in an Island-wide event.
Fire Chief’s report
At the February 20 community service/public works advisory committee meeting, Fire Chief Darren Bailey presented his February report to council. The fire department assisted with a three-vehicle motor vehicle collision on Highway 6 and Green Bush Road, a February 3 carbon monoxide call on Pepper Point Road, a two-vehicle motor vehicle collision on Green Bush Road between a fuel truck and a half ton truck and a fire call to Bay Estates that very morning, February 20, which saw extensive damage to a Bay Estates home. The department was dispatched at 9:30 am and remained there for five hours. No one was hurt in the incident, he was pleased to report.
Councillor Koehler asked if any firefighting equipment is left in Little Current when the department responds to a call for service. The fire chief replied that it is not.
Mr. Williamson explained that if there were a second fire, the chief would make the call to either split the crew or call for mutual aid.
Councillor Koehler said it was once the municipality’s policy that a piece of equipment would stay in Little Current, in case of another fire.
Community Services report
Manager of Community Services Reid Taylor addressed council on the busy schedule of events at the recreation centre, including one adult hockey tournament at the beginning of the month and three upcoming children’s tournaments.
The municipality is also offering a list of events for March Break, March 10 to 14, including family hockey, kids’ fit programs, an obstacle course, pickup hockey and public skating.
Mr. Taylor also presented the proposed rates for Spider Bay Marina and Port of Little Current for dockage, ramping and service. The seasonal rates are up two percent from last year, to help offset the rising costs of utilities.
Councillor Koehler told Mr. Reid that the reason the arena is again attracting tournaments, such as the upcoming Tournaments of Champions hosted by the Manitoulin Panthers, is thanks to the excellent state of the facilities. “You’re doing a good job,” he told Mr. Taylor.
“For the first time, I agree with Bill,” Councillor Wood added, noting that he’s heard great comments about the friendly staff and clean facilities.
Councillor Jones asked about opening up more of the downtown docks to seasonal boaters. Mr. Taylor responded that there are some seasonal boaters located at the east end of the downtown docks and that larger boats, should there be no room at Spider Bay, would be given the opportunity to dock downtown.
A motion to raise the seasonal rates was passed.
Building controls/bylaw enforcement report
Brock Sanftenberg, building controls/bylaw enforcement officer, told council that to date, the municipality has issued a demolition permit with follow-up inspections being conducted.
On the issues of parking, six parking infraction tickets have been issued and five vehicles towed.
Public Works report
Mr. Williamson delivered the public works report for Gary May, as he and his crew were responding to a broken water main on Vankoughnet Street.
“It’s been an exceedingly busy time for public works,” he said, “and it’s been putting a strain on manpower and equipment.”
Mr. Williamson said that staying on budget would be challenging because of the extreme winter Manitoulin has encountered. There have been lots of breakdowns in equipment, but currently the machinery is in good working order, he added. The public works department has also faced an increase in frozen water lines and streaming culverts.
For the first time in six years the municipality has had to hire contractors to help with snow removal, Mr. Williamson explained.
“Despite all of this, we have an exceptional crew,” Mr. Williamson said, noting the impending freezing rain that was due that night.
He also brought the issue of scheduled commercial garbage pickup in Ward 2 forward. In the winter months, commercial bin pickup is reduced to once per week and some businesses are requesting further pickups, which is a drain on the crew’s already pressed time. Mr. Williamson suggested charging the $35 rural rate for pickup for extra service, thereby encouraging businesses to purchase another bin.
Councillor Koehler asked if the $35 covered the cost of the truck and manpower, which Mr. Williamson said it did not.
A motion to charge the $35 rural rate for extra garbage pickups was passed.
Council hears request for marked
Council reviewed a request from Jim McMillan of Little Current for a number of marked crosswalks along Meredith Street.
After a great deal of debate from council it was decided to have the municipality’s engineer review the request and report back to council.
Water treatment plant plans
Council received the November to December water treatment plant reports from the Ontario Clean Water Agency.
On the topic of water treatment plants, Mr. Williamson told council that he had received a visit from an inspector with the Ministry of Environment, which recommends that a walkthrough be done of the water treatment plant in Little Current, which is nearing 15-years-old.
“The logic is that if they see a problem coming, we can plan accordingly,” Mr. Williamson said.
Councillor Erskine noted that council had the foresight to put more money into reserves for exactly this reason.
Heidi Ferguson, events coordinator, provided council with an event proposal for a community picnic to be held on Sunday, July 13 at Low Island Park. This event comes following the success of the Bridgefest picnic last year.
Council members all shared how well received last year’s picnic had been received.
Councillor Skippen asked about moving the picnic to Ward 4. Councillors Orr and Jones thought that this was a good idea too, and that the Sheguiandah Bay picnic area would be a logical place, but not this year as work on the area has yet to be completed by the municipality.
In a recorded vote, council voted in favour of the July event, with the exception of Councillors Peters and Skippen. Councillor Peters explained that she did not vote in favour of the picnic because council did not budget for it.
“And as you know I did not vote in favour of the budget because I feel it was cut down too much,” she said.