Council was notified of an application for a medical marijuana production facility to be located within the township. The proponent explained that there are currently 2,000 applications in to Health Canada but only five approvals, so it will be a lengthy process. Council was directed to Health Canada regulations and guidance documents on such things as building and security requirements and fire safety. Reeve Gary Brown noted that he was “aware these facilities could come up on Manitoulin Island.” The application is in the very early stages but the proponent assured council they “will know every step of the way.”
Bylaw to appoint drainage supervisor
Council approved Bylaw 2014-04 to appoint a drainage supervisor after a review of quotes. Only one quote was received. Gary Mackay of Tulloch Engineering in Espanola was appointed for a one-year term. The purpose of this appointment is to set up a drainage maintenance program. Mr. Mackay previously worked with Central Manitoulin to get their program up and running.
Little Schoolhouse and Museum
There are two openings on the Little Schoolhouse and Museum Board. Any interested persons are encouraged to contact the municipal office.
Fire Chief’s Report
There were no fire calls and three practices over December and January with an average attendance of nine. There is currently a 23-member roster. While attendance was affected by weather conditions, attendance at a minimum percentage (75 percent) of practices is required. Training officer Ryan Hutchinson’s work to date is compliant with the new national fire protection system. Fire Chief Jeff Wilson requested permission to proceed with purchase of new breathing apparatus as the existing ones are obsolete and need to be replaced. Funds would come from the current year’s budget. The request was approved as was a request to pursue working with Red Cross to make the Tehkummah fire hall a disaster management centre for southeast Manitoulin, or the entire Island, and a request for approval to attend several spring training opportunities.
Fire hydrant access
Councillor Paul Bowerman expressed concerns about persons parking in front of and obstructing access to fire hydrants in South Baymouth. Mr. Bowerman explained that the Ontario Fire Code states that fire hydrants must be kept clear of obstructions, but it is up to the municipality to establish a policy and to lay charges. The OPP does not issue tickets but can have vehicles towed if requested by the municipality. “We need to go through the Highway Traffic Act,” Reeve Gary Brown said. “If we need a bylaw we’ll make a bylaw.”
Manitoulin Planning Board
A motion to receive the minutes of the Manitoulin Planning Board was carried. Councillor Bowerman continues to question parts of the Official Plan. “As council, we need to discuss [access] in areas that affect Tehkummah Township,” he said. Reeve Brown suggested all council should attend the Manitoulin Municipal Association meeting on the February 26 to obtain more information.
Council moved to donate $100 to the Manitoulin Fine Arts Association in support of township artists.
Main sewage pump station repair
There were some issues in the water treatment plant report received. One issue was the wastewater pump at the main pumping station. It has been sent for repair. A pump was previously lost because of debris in the system. The township is moving to grinder pumps, but debris can also destroy these. When residents flush things like baby wipes down the sewers the fibres in the wipe will tear a pump apart, it was explained. A motion was carried to send the pump for repair.
Water and sewer rates
There will be a three percent increase in water and sewer rates this year which amounts to $46 per household. Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) and hydro rates have both increased this year and the three percent rate increase will come very close to covering increased costs, providing there are no additional increases in hydro rates.
Concerns about MPAC
Council received a report from Gerry Strong on Municipal Property Assesment Corporation (MPAC) but decided to hold off on a motion to support Mr. Strong until they hear his presentation to the Manitoulin Municipal Association at end of May.
Post Office Saturday closure
Canada Post is considering the closure of post offices on Saturdays. This makes it difficult for many working residents to collect their mail as office hours are limited throughout the week. Currently the Tehkummah post office is open from 8:30 am until noon on Saturdays. Council moved to submit a letter of protest to Canada Post.
New OPP billing system
Council received a request for support from numerous municipalities to protest the OPP’s new system of billing. Council moved to support the municipalities’ requests for support, but will also to formulate a letter to the OPP, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the premier, requesting clarity on how future funding through the Ontario Municipal Fund will be applied with respect to this increase.
Kudos to Roads Department
Council received a letter from Larry Killens praising the snow clearing work done this winter by Tehkummah Roads Department. The letter will be forwarded to roads staff.
Ben Lentir gave a brief presentation suggesting the formation of a municipal Heritage Committee that would be responsible for the oversight of all heritage properties in the township. Mr. Lentir referred to the Ontario Heritage Act, which provides a framework to help municipalities conserve properties of heritage interest. The Heritage Committee needs to be appointed by council and would provide a voice for all other committees (including Michael’s Bay Historical Society and Little Schoolhouse and Museum). There was some concern that another committee would detract from existing ones. This was countered with a concern that not enough is being done to gather photos, personal histories and other local heritage items. Council directed clerk Patsy Gilchrist to look up the Ontario Heritage Act and obtain more information so council can make an informed decision.