Council Reports: December 12, 2005

REPORT ON COUNCIL
December 12, 2005
Committee of the Whole Meeting: 9:07 a.m. – 6:13 p.m.
Regular Evening Meeting: 7:02 p.m. – 8:07 p.m.
Mayor Klug, and Councillors Breckenridge and Panasiuk present all day. Councillor Ray Millar arrived at 10:26 a.m. Deputy Mayor Maurice absent.

CONFIDENTIAL / CLOSED SESSION: 2:02 p.m. – 4:05 p.m.

TRACKING COMPLAINTS AND INQUIRIES FROM THE PUBLIC: Council asked staff to track complaints and inquiries. Beginning mid-May 9 departments began to use check sheets containing 89 categories on which to note complaints and inquiries. Personal visits and phone calls were recorded, but not e-mails. The top five categories captured about a third of all contacts, namely Tax Inquiries (1957), Fire Permits/Ban (1717), Building Inspection (1365), Zoning and Setback (1174), and Parking Permits (1130).
Council felt that further refinement was needed to get meaningful results. Complaints needed to be separated clearly from inquiries. E-mails needed to be added to the mix. The members of Council themselves needed to track telephone calls and e-mails from township residents. Extra weight needed to be given to contacts from an organization. It was impossible to tell from the first set of results what the key issues were, and whether they were being addressed adequately. Changes are to be made in the tracking system, and reports made to Council from time to time.
We note that letters – the form of communication that requires the most effort – were not mentioned.

DISPOSAL OF SEPTAGE: The Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations together with Tiny’s Residents Working Together had sent a letter to the Township expressing concern that adequate, economical disposal facilities be found for the township’s septage, as the province’s recent Nutrient Management Act set the end of the December 2005 as the final date for spreading of septage on farmers’ fields.
At this meeting, Keith Sherman, of the Severn Sound Environmental Association, addressed the subject. Apparently the December deadline is not firm, but the end of the spreading of septage is coming. When it does come, septage must be treated at the sewage plant, and turned into sludge. This is equal in volume to septage, but it is more stable, and may be spread on farmers’ fields. The Ministry of the Environment decides which fields may be used for spreading, and there will be changes in Tiny Township as some currently approved sites are within wellhead protection areas according to the North Simcoe Municipal Groundwater Study. The sewage plants in our area capable of dealing with septage are those in Midland, and farther afield, Barrie and Orillia.
Currently, several groups are discussing the need for more treatment facilities –the Severn Sound Association and its 9 member municipalities, the Mayors and Deputy Mayors of North Simcoe, and the public works departments of North Simcoe municipalities.

LIBRARY FUNDING / TRANSFER PAYMENTS: Council intends to discuss the whole matter of transfer payments to adjacent municipalities for use of libraries, arenas and the like during budget dIscussions. Recently the libraries asked for a flat per household fee of $15 – roughly $135,000 per year for Tiny’s 9,000 households – with no consideration given to the fact that the majority of Tiny’s households make only seasonal use of libraries. At the moment, the township pays a “non-resident” fee for each household that actually uses a library in Midland, Penetanguishene, or Springwater. In the short term, until budget discussions, Council decided that Tiny will pay the new, 2006, increased, non-resident user fees to each library.

BUDGET: Council is to discuss the budget on February 6th and 20th. These discussions, which usually occupy a full day, take place in the Council Chambers and are open to the public. Prior to these discussions, Council intends to consider a number of policy matters, and expects to make a start during Committee of the Whole on January 9, 2006, by discussing contributions to abutting municipal sports facilities and libraries. Other general issues slated for discussion include recreation associations, official plan update, the airport, and the election.

SOBEN PROPERTIES SUBDIVISION IN TOANCHE: Council approved the developer’s offer of double tennis courts, lighting, parking lot and fencing in lieu of part of the required %parkland donation; They also accepted the proposed 50′ reduction of lot length for lots 1 & 2, which would leave a wooded park buffer strip between the baseball diamond and the backyards of future homeowners. They did NOT approve the developer’s desired land swap, whereby a strip of the eastern edge of the park would have been deeded to the developer in return for two serviced lots. Though the park is large, this strip forms part of a heavily used tobogganing hill.

YEAR END REVIEW: The Clerk, Ruth Coursey, presented a wide-ranging report which reminded everyone of changes (to staff, the building, technology), and the magnitude of work accomplished by each township department and by Council in 2005. Of particular interest to this observer was the fresh thinking represented by a whole range of initiatives – among them the gradual move to e-gendas, the identification of strategic priorities, the inclusion in the agenda of regular status reports on on-going projects and directives, the first attempt at tracking complaints, the review of parks and recreation service provision options, the installation of beach limits signage, the creation of a management plan study for Bluewater Park, the creative attempts to stop Site 41, the passage of an exotic animal by-law, and the replacement of deficient Tiny Trail bridges with reasonably priced footbridges. All these initiatives represent good thinking on the part of many members of staff and council and the public, and they were undertaken while the usual Township business was carried on competently.