Report on Council
MEMBERS OF COUNCIL:
Mayor Peggy Breckenridge
Deputy Mayor George Lawrence
Councillor André Claire
Councillor George Cornell
Councillor Nigel Warren
ADMINISTRATION CHANGE: Ruth Coursey, the Township’s CAO/Clerk, has accepted a position as CAO of the Town of Lakeshore (population 35,000) in Essex County. This, we gather, is a good career move for her. Her last day in Tiny is November 9th. She has brought a welcome professionalism and a dry sense of humour to administration in Tiny. We have been fortunate to have her working for the Township for the last three years.
Council has hired the search firm that found Ms Coursey to look for her replacement.
TIME AND PLACE OF COUNCIL MEETINGS: Council meets on the second and last Mondays of each month in the Council Chambers at the Township Offices, 130 Balm Beach Road West. Committee of the Whole meetings generally begin at 9 a.m. and continue for the morning and much of the afternoon. This is the time to observe the members of Council at work, as they discuss issues and reports. The Regular Evening Meetings of Council also take place on the second and last Mondays of each month in the Council Chambers. At these evening meetings, which begin at 7 p.m., the members of Council vote on the issues discussed during the day.
STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSIONS: In September, Council and senior members of staff spent three days considering objectives for the next three years. Some of the proposed initiatives are very long term, but most are meant to be completed within this Council’s mandate. Here are some of the initiatives that were discussed:
• solving problems with supply in water systems from the 15th to the 19th concessions
• developing a strategy for the treatment of septage
• getting reasonably priced high speed internet access for the whole township
• completing a Master Plan for Lafontaine Beach Park and revisiting the one for Balm Beach
• completing an Official Plan review
• establishing a long term asset management plan
• creating a Township image and logo for use on signs, stationery and the like
• developing a community culture “map” of the township
• improving communication with staff, residents, and neighbouring municipalities
• seeing whether space in the Township Offices can be used more efficiently
• making decisions about encroachment and municipal land ownership issues
IDENTIFICATION OF TOWNSHIP-OWNED PROPERTIES FAR FROM COMPLETE: It seems that the announcement toward the end of the last Council’s term of office that identification of land owned by the Township was complete for the shore and that subsequent work would focus on inland properties was misleading. Only Concession 1 has been completed in the thorough manner recommended by David Lambden. In May this year, Henk Blom, Manager of Public Works, noted that Council needed to make policy decisions about the level of investigation that should be undertaken for each Township-owned block of land. During the recent strategy planning sessions, it was decided that thorough investigation of land title should be focused on key properties, and that attention would be given to major encroachments.
BY-LAW ENFORCEMENT: The Chief Municipal Law Enforcement Officer (Shawn Crawford) has a staff of 15 from May 1 to Labour Day, most of them students. From Labour Day to the end of October, there are two enforcement officers, and for the balance of the year, only Crawford himself.
From November 1 to May 1, the lack of staff means that by-law enforcement is reactive – it responds to complaints – rather than proactive. In the summer some by-laws are administered proactively – in particular parking regulations and the sign by-law (which prohibits advertising signs on Township road allowances), watering regulations, heavy pick-up items put out at the wrong times, and some aspects of encroachment. When discussing strategic priorities, Council decided to review Township by-laws and whether they are to be enforced pro- or reactively. If they opt for more proactive enforcement, they are aware that they will have to hire more staff.
CONTROL OF ATVS: At the end of May, Council passed a many pronged motion designed to bring ATVS under control. They authorized increased patrol hours and set a standard of zero tolerance regarding illegal operation of motorized machines. They approved additional signage and the installation of boulders and asked that a press release be prepared about the operation of motorized machines in the Township. And finally, they decided that the rules for the operation of motorized vehicles and phone numbers for complaints should be posted on the Township’s website. For these, see tiny.ca>ADMINISTRATION>Departments & Services>By-law Enforcement>Motorized Machines.
As a result, more charges have been laid.
ILLEGAL ACCESSORY APARTMENTS / APARTMENTS OVER GARAGES: Members of Council have repeatedly expressed concern about the many illegal accessory apartments in the shoreline area. Inadequately-sized septic arrangements are one of a number of issues related to these apartments. In June a preliminary report on the matter included the observation that “If the Municipality was to consider allowing accessory apartments, a full study should be conducted to examine the impact of increasing the density in the shoreline area on the groundwater resources and natural environment.” So far this problem has not been effectively addressed.
1st ANNUAL MAYOR’S PIG ROAST: Hundreds of township residents enjoyed this event, which took place on Saturday, July 7, from 1-4 p.m. At it, volunteer fire fighters extracted someone “trapped” in a car, a magician performed tricks, the pig was consumed, and a band played.
PUBLIC MEETING ABOUT FENCE STANDARDS, AUGUST 11: Council has not yet decided what to do about the views expressed by residents at this public meeting. The proposal under discussion was that fences and retaining walls be removed from the definition of a structure in Zoning By-law 06 001 and that a new definition of fence be included along with a new subsection about fences.
The proposed definition was “a composition serving as an enclosure, a barrier, or boundary delineation, usually made of posts or stakes joined together by boards, wire, or rails.”
And the proposed new subsection was:
a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this by-law, a fence shall not exceed a height of 1.9 metres;
b) Fence height is to be calculated by taking the average measurement from grade to the top of each post. In addition no single fence post shall exceed a maximum height of 1.9 metres;
c) Decorative caps on top of a post may encroach into the height restriction to a maximum of no more than 0.3 metres;
d) No fence is to be constructed from ungraded used lumber, unsightly and/or deteriorating used material. In all residential zones, no fence is to be constructed from barbed wire or any device designed to transmit electric current through a fence;
e) Fences to enclose swimming pools shall not be subject to the above provisions, but must comply with all other Municipal By-laws and Ontario building Code regulations….
INVESTIGATION INTO BEACH WATER QUALITY IN THE SUMMER OF 2007: Three groups investigated beach water quality in Tiny this summer — the Severn Sound Environmental Association at Balm Beach, Jackson Park Beach and Woodland Beach; Environment Canada at Woodland and Balm; and the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit at the usual series of public beaches. None of these groups has submitted reports, as yet. Already it is clear, however, that the Health Unit has changed its standard for recommending posting of a beach. In a letter written to the Township early in August, Jerry Capko, the County’s Safe Water Program Manager, said: “In past years, the geometric mean of a beach sample series has been the key factor in deciding whether to post a beach or not. . . . Current information based on analysis of previous years’ trends as well as the experience of other jurisdictions has allowed us to implement a wider set of judgment criteria for the 2007 season.” The result? Only one beach in Tiny was posted this summer — Woodland Beach Park — and only from the 15th to the 17th of August, compared to more than 30 postings last summer. Until the Health Unit makes the sample results available and fully describes the other factors taken into consideration, it is impossible to tell whether the new procedure is a good one. We note, however, that, in the past, a beach posted on a Wednesday because of high E. coli results from Monday’s testing often proved to have had acceptable E. coli counts for the Wednesday when analysis results came in on Friday.
PREPARATION BEGINS FOR THE TOWNSHIP’S OFFICIAL PLAN REVIEW: The Official Plan that came into force in 2001 is coming up for its first formal review. Two preparatory reports were presented by the Township’s Planning Department. One drew attention to provincial and county documents to which Tiny’s Official Plan must now conform. Many of these documents require that future development occur in Tiny’s hamlets and that natural resources be safeguarded.
The other report listed the amount of vacant land designated for development in Tiny’s various land categories:
• Shoreline (below the Nipissing Ridge along Georgian Bay and also around Farlain Lake) – 695.62 hectares (1,732.49 acres)
• Settlement Areas (Lafontaine, Perkinsfield, Toanche, Wyebridge, and Wyevale) – 112.3 hectares (278.9 acres)
• Country Residential (in the rural area) – 38.1 hectares (94.76 acres)
• Employment Area (the industrial park near the public works yard and the Huronia Airport) – 111.8 hectares (276.77 acres)
These figures suggest that the bulk of the land designated for future development is in the wrong place – the ecologically sensitive shoreline area — rather than the settlement areas.
1st Annual Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament: This took place on Saturday, August 25, 2007 at the Balm Beachway Golf Course on Concession 11 East. The torrential downpour during registration did not dampen spirits; the skies then cleared and everyone was able to enjoy the sold-out event. Sixty golfers participated. Mayor Peggy Breckenridge presented a “big cheque” representing the event’s $3,000 proceeds to Habitat for Humanity during the official opening of Habitat’s ReStore on Saturday, September 22.
CHAMPLAIN CROSS PARK AT TOANCHE: Preparations are under way to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in Ontario in 2015. It is claimed that Champlain erected a cross in or around Toanche in the year 1615, to claim the land for the King of France. In August, Matthew Desroches of the Trillium Foundation urged Council to set aside $15-20,000 to acquire land where the Champlain Cross is said to have once stood. Desroches argued that a new cross would maintain a 100-year history of commemorative crosses on that site.
In September, Council authorized staff to research the total cost and liability of becoming owners of the site.
OVERGROWN, ROCK STREWN SHORELINE CONCESSION ENDS AND PARKS: Township staff has run into difficulties in making shoreline road allowances (like the 8th) and parks (like the Lafontaine Park) usable and pleasant. The Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Natural Resources have rejected plan after plan to redirect disruptive drains, manage vegetation, and remove rocks. Staff finds it frustrating that some private landowners have been allowed more latitude.
In August, Deputy Mayor George Lawrence suggested that the DFO be invited to visit some of the problem areas and make suggestions about remediation. Clerk/CAO Ruth Coursey suggested that the township invest in engineering studies by consultants used to dealing with government bureaucracies – possibly the Severn Sound Environmental Association or the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation.
Staff is to prepare a report, setting out the options.
BOARD WALKS FOR BLUEWATER PARK: In August, Council authorized a $40,000 expenditure for wood that is to be used for walkways. These are meant to keep users of Bluewater Park away from fragile native vegetation and sand dunes. The first walkway is to run from the end of Trew Avenue through the park to the shore.
GIANT’S TOMB SUBDIVISION MOVES FORWARD: In August Council passed a by-law authorizing LIMO Investments to develop its 12-lot, 11.3 (27.9 acre) subdivision on Giant’s Tomb Island.
REMOVAL OF (H) SYMPOLS FROM MANY PRO-PERTIES IN TOWNSHIP: In August, staff reported that H1, H2 and H3 symbols are to be removed from many affected properties and the property owners notified.
The H1 symbol concerns Holding Provisions in Shoreline areas to do with septic systems. A huge number of these are being lifted as a result of septic re-inspections. In some cases, older systems have proved to be functioning properly. In others, the necessary remedial work has been done.
The H2 symbol concerns Holding Provisions on private or unassumed roads. Ten of these are being lifted at various points in the Township.
The H3 symbol concerns the Holding Provision on properties adjacent to waste disposal sites. Three of these are being lifted in Part Lot 110, Concession 2 Old Survey.
To check whether an (H) is being removed from your property, go to “Planning & Development Report PD-10-07” on tiny.ca>Council Agenda>Committee of the Whole Agenda – 2007>CWC 16 August 27, 2007>F Staff Reports to Council>2 Planning and Development>(e).
BUILDING ACTIVITY DOWN: There has been a dramatic decline in building activity in the township in comparison with 2006. Where in 2006 total construction value stood at $27,440,000 at the end of August (on 453 building permits), this year, the value stood at $25,334,000 (on 371 building permits), and would have been $7 million lower if not for the inclusion of one project, the Lafontaine retirement complex, Le Villageois.