Report on Council:
A glance back over the last three years and an update on recent Council Meetings
For accounts of each meeting since the current Council took office, see the Federation’s website – www.tinycottager.org — under Council Reports.
MEMBERS OF COUNCIL:
Mayor Robert Klug
Deputy Mayor Pierre Paul Maurice
Councillor Peggy Breckenridge
Councillor Ray Millar
Councillor Rob Panasiuk
It has been a pleasure to observe this Council in action. Discussion of issues and problems has been at a high, invigorating level. Attention has been paid to the guiding framework of the Municipal Act and the Township’s Procedural By-laws. And a great deal has been accomplished. Without expanding unduly about each item – since we’ve reported on each one before – here’s a list of important actions taken by this Council:
Hiring three key members of staff. Ruth Coursey took over as Clerk/CAO in November of 2004. Randy Smith became Fire Chief on March of 2005. Doug Taylor became the Township’s Treasurer in June of this year. All three have excellent credentials and the first two have already demonstrated their worth many times in the fresh thinking and thoroughness they bring to their part of the administration of the Township. We will soon be able to comment on Doug Taylor’s performance as he settles into his position as treasurer.
Getting the Zoning By-law passed. Left-over business from the last Council, the Zoning By-law was finally passed in January of this year.
Making the Tiny Trail usable. Also left-over business from the last Council, this involved removing 10 derelict, dangerous railway bridges and having them replaced with reasonably priced footbridges. The Trail was officially re-opened in June.
Making Township records accessible for Council and the public. Since last October, Council agendas (including staff reports) and minutes have been made available on the Township’s website, new ones being posted on the Friday before each Monday meeting of Council. The Township’s By-laws for each year since 1940 have also been made available on the website in a series of pdf files along with their status (amended, rescinded, etc.).
Placing signage and posts at shore parks. Gradually, signs showing a diagram of the extent and shape of each shore park have been erected at the entry to each park. And slowly (very slowly), as surveys and title searches have been completed, posts have been placed at a few parks to mark their boundaries.
Authorizing investigation into the causes of swimming water pollution. Continuing the research begun by the previous Council, this Council included money in each year’s budget for investigative work by the Severn Sound Environmental Association.
Carrying on the Septic Re-inspection Program. At the end of this season’s re-inspections, C.C. Tatham and Associates will have made its first pass at all properties right across the Township from the Township Line north to Concession Road 14, and along the western shore to Concession Road 16. Roughly 1,000 systems are re-inspected each year.
Identifying land the Township owns. In February, the Clerk/CAO Ruth Coursey advised that the identification of Township-owned shoreline properties was near completion and that attention was moving to inland properties. But so far, a detailed list of township holdings is available only for Concession 1.
Keeping Tiny’s share of municipal taxes down. In 2004, the levy for Tiny’s share of municipal taxes increased by 3.68%, in 2005, by 6.4%, and in 2006, Tiny’s share of the levy actually decreased by .89%.
Tracking complaints and inquiries from the public. Last year, Council asked staff to track complaints and inquiries. After the first report on the results, Council asked that complaints be separated from inquiries and that e-mails be added to the mix. We hope that this worthwhile initiative continues and is refined further.
Reclaiming the dunes of Bluewater Park. Council commissioned a group of consultants to prepare recommendations about how to restore the dunes and wetlands that once existed in Bluewater Park, recommendations that are now gradually being acted upon.
Trying to get some control over Huronia Airport. Council has made regular attempts since early in 2004 to ascertain whether the Airport is being well-run, but has not received the required data. Recently Council decided to withhold the Township’s share of this year’s operating costs until the requested records and plans were forthcoming. The next Council will have to resolve this problem – but at least it was noticed.
Updating By-laws and Policies and having new By-laws drafted. Notable here were the careful revision of the Encroachment By-law, the creation of the Exotic Animals By-law, the updating of Development Charges, and the drafting of a proposed omnibus Business Licensing By-law.
Including status reports on projects and directives in Council Agendas. This spreadsheet allows Council and the public to see at a glance how quickly Council’s directives are being carried out and reminds Council to ask about delays. It is proving to be a very useful tool in setting priorities.
Attempting to stop Site 41. All through its term, Council gave careful thought to the problem of Site 41, acquiring expert legal advice, employing a variety of stalling techniques to gain time to get opinion changed at County Council. For the latest moves, see below.
NEW ISSUES SINCE THE MAY PUBLICATION OF THE TINY COTTAGER
FENCE IN BALM BEACH: In May, the erection of a substantial fence just south of the Surf Restaurant in Balm Beach immediately caused demands that it be removed. Council considered how best to proceed, and decided that, even though it would take longer to effect, a change to the Zoning By-law was preferable to the creation of a Fencing By-law, as it carried with it the right of appeal to the Committee of Adjustment and the requirement for a public meeting. Staff prepared two reports, explaining current by-law and zoning provisions with regard to fencing, and the public was invited to make written submissions by the end of August. Only 13 came in, eight of them signed. Staff was asked to draft a report for Council’s consideration once the submissions had been considered.
RECREATION MASTER PLAN FOR THE TOWNSHIP: Council has hired a consultant to prepare a Recreation Master Plan. The first phase, which is to be delivered before the end of this Council term, involves gathering background information, identifying key issues, and recommending future directions. The second phase, to be completed by the end of March 2007, is to involve public review, refinement of the directions identified earlier, and preparation of a 10-year implementation strategy.
PROPOSED TRAILER PARK AND CAMP GROUND IN CONCESSION 2: See page 13.
MEETINGS OF COUNCIL ARE NO LONGER TO BE TAPED: After several discussions about the matter, Council approved the CAO/Clerk’s recommendation that taping of meetings be discontinued, as taping is not required by the Municipal Act, the tapes are poor in quality, there is little demand for copies, and “publication of full meeting commentary through distribution of audio tapes, may also place the municipality at risk, if libelous comments are being made.”
FIRE DEPARTMENT ACQUIRES TWO SURPLUS AMBULANCES: Council approved the Fire Chief’s recommendation that two surplus ambulances be purchased from the County of Simcoe. They are to be based at the Lafontaine and Wyevale Stations and employed as utility/rescue units. Use of these vehicles will allow the pumper to remain at the Station, ready to respond to a fire call. The ambulances will also be used to transport personnel and equipment to the scene of a fire.
RECENT MOVES WITH REGARD TO SITE 41: In drafting the enabling amendments to the Township’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law for the dumpsite (amendments required by senior levels of government), our Council included a series of important protections and conditions.
County’s staff appealed these amendments to the OMB and also took action to marginalize the Community Monitoring Committee and the Environmental Inspector.
On August 21, Deputy Mayor Pierre Paul Maurice and Councillors Peggy Breckenridge and Ray Millar participated in the 250-strong rally against Site 41 at Queen’s Park, and each of them made excellent speeches opposing the dumpsite.
On September 11, the Township was out-manoeuvered at County Council yet again. A motion by Deputy Mayor Pierre Paul Maurice to have the County quash Site 41 (preceded by intense lobbying of County Council) was derailed at the last minute by a motion from the floor to defer the vote. It is not clear what will happen next.
A MASTER PLAN FOR WOODLAND BEACH PARK?: In a letter, the Woodland Beach Property Owners’ Association asked that a Master Plan be prepared for Woodland Beach Park in accordance with the requirements of Tiny’s Official Plan. Council accepted CAO/Clerk Ruth Coursey’s recommendation that staff prepare a background report, informally contact a couple of firms who might prepare such a plan, and keep in touch with the Association on the matter. It will be up to the next Council to decide whether or not to move forward with a master plan, but the background work will be ready.
PROPOSED PURCHASE OF PERKINSFIELD SCHOOL: Council had been considering the disused school in Perkinsfield as a possible Township meeting place, because of its central location. Unfortunately, formal inspections of the building revealed many deficiencies and health hazards. At this point, if the property is purchased, it looks as if the building will be demolished, and it is not clear just what will be done with the land, apart from adding a little of it to the Perkinsfield Park.