Council heard an update on the Manitoulin Phragmites Project from co-ordinator Judith Jones. She emphasized the importance of the project for maintaining wildlife habitats, a balanced ecosystem and preserving the property values in the township. The group has performed extensive work at Michael’s Bay in recent years and is making significant progress. This marks the third and final year of funding for the phragmites program and Ms. Jones said she was hoping to spend $30,000 in 2019, the same as the previous year.
She requested four items from council. First, to have the public works crew clear out the piles of cleared phragmites from the previous season. Second, to have the township’s approval of both proceeding with the Truxor equipment and having a public works crew available for two days in the week of August 12, as well as approval to continue the carefully controlled use of herbicide to kill the plants. Finally, she requested some funding assistance from the township to pay for an extra day of having the Truxor machinery on site, a total cost of $6,800. She said she was looking at other grants that would cover at least half of the cost.
Councillor Rick Gordon asked if phragmites is considered an invasive species, to which Ms. Jones replied that it is indeed one of the worst invasive plant species in the area.
Maja Mielonen and Guy Nielen from the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) requested council’s support in principle of hosting a bike share station on municipal property in South Baymouth. The group is applying for grants to implement a traditional and electric bike sharing system on Manitoulin and required a commitment in principle from municipalities who would be willing to host a station for a five-year term.
The stations require internet and electricity access in their most robust form, though MICA has committed to pay for the connection costs and any increases in electricity costs. They will be seeking funding through either the Ontario Trillium Fund or FedNor via the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
The Owen Sound Transportation Company has expressed their willingness to promote the service, though they did not wish to host the bike share station on their property. MICA will cover insurance costs for the bicycles.
Clerk-administrator Roy Hardy said having the bike share service available in the township may spur community development and encourage people to spend more time riding around the town rather than simply passing through. It also creates a new public transportation service for those without access to a car who are wishing to travel within the area.
Fees and services bylaw
Council passed the administration and building permit fees as well as the late payment fees, schedules A, B and F of the bylaw, with no changes from the draft. Schedule C was modified to change the $5 burn permit charge, valid for one burn, to a $5 annual charge. Anyone holding an annual permit who wishes to burn must notify the township in advance of their plans.
Schedule D, concerning capital fees and charges, was held back. These charges are largely to recoup costs for operating the water and sewer system in South Baymouth and to plan for future expansion. Some of the changes, such as a $25 site visit charge to turn on or off water or conduct an inspection, were met with reservations from Councillor Lorie Leeson, who requested that the water and sewer committee be consulted first. Councillor Michael McKenzie requested to defer this schedule until the following meeting.
Schedule E concerned other user fees and charges. Council spent time discussing camping costs, including a bump in the seasonal rate from the proposed $1,575 to an even $1,600. This also brings the increase closer to the tax rate increase. Councillor Leeson suggested overnight tenting costs should be $20, up from the proposed $10, to better reflect other campgrounds in the area.
A resident in attendance interjected that John Budd Park was donated land to the township and should not be run like a campground, and left the meeting. Councillor Leeson suggested a $30 rate for overnight camping with hydro, and a $450 monthly rate with no services.
Next came marina fees. Councillor Leeson had concerns about a parking charge and was worried that it may cause negative impacts for employees trying to manage the services. Councillor Eric Russell called a parking charge “nickel and diming” and council resolved to remove the parking charge, making the daily launch fees $7 and $8 for residents and non-residents, respectively.
Council approved a $100 per hour rate for residents wishing to hire the township’s backhoe, with each job being subject to council approval.
Mr. Hardy told council the $2,500 in landfill revenues was dwarfed by annual operating costs of $70,000 to $80,000. Councillor Leeson requested the non-resident fee category be removed, since only residents should be using the landfill. Council resolved to remove the landfill site visit charge for the time being, but will revisit it at the next meeting.
Fire chief’s report
Fire Chief Jeff Wilson informed council that the township was the successful bidder on a 1999 model year fire truck, currently located in Pickering and being moved to Dependable Emergency Vehicles for inspection. The bid was $45,000 and Mr. Wilson expected a worst-case repair on the truck to be $10,000. The truck has 19,000 kilometres and is riding on new tires. The fire department may consider rebuilding the truck to extend its life in the future.
Provincial one-time efficiency grant
Council discussed how best to make use of the $228,000 grant. Mr. Hardy suggested that future items in the 10-year capital plan could be moved up to the current year. One item was a tandem axle plow/sander as requested by the roads superintendent, paying a 10 percent up-front cost at about $30,000. Mr. Hardy also suggested looking at a 12- to 13-tonne compactor for the landfill, or allowing the roads superintendent to explore other options such as renting a unit. Mr. Hardy identified $35,000 for the landfill’s front end including fencing and drop off bins. Other items included getting a mobile portable generator, utility pickup truck and propane generator for the municipal office and fire hall. His total plan amounted to $165,000, leaving a balance of $63,000 for future items.
Council passed its credit card, delegation of authority and strategic asset management policies. Discussions on the recreation committee terms of reference, hiring and procurement policies were pushed to a later meeting.
The library board requested to seal and cover the asbestos tiles in its space, based on a quote of $11,716 from Flooring by Bruce (Wilson), who recently completed the same work in the municipal office. Council agreed to the board’s request to help research any applicable grants that may assist with the cost of the important work.
Out of the closed session, council resolved to direct Mr. Hardy to hire the chosen seasonal public works candidates, as well as an update to discussions happening with the Manitoulin Tourism Association.