Signs of Progress: Roads, Plans, Budgets and Signs

Desert Lake Causeway

After years of promises and consultations, progress has been made on redeveloping the Desert Lake Causeway. The new culverts are in and the road bed is wider. The new boat ramp, while not yet fully usable, looks much safer with the concrete mesh base. It is already a significant improvement. The work will be finished next spring with a separation between the beach and the road way, parking spaces, hard top and a dock by the boat ramp.

The agreement on Council was that the culverts would not permit boat access between Desert Lake and Holleford Lake. At this falls low water level, it was possible to get a canoe through the culverts, though it is tight. With normal summer conditions this would be a difficult, if not impossible, maneuver.

New Official Plan

The community process to write the Township’s new official plan is truly underway.

Close to 100 people came to the Storrington Lions Hall and a further 60+ came to the Sydenham library to learn about the new official plan process and give their initial input. At both meetings people were attentive, asked staff lots of questions, and participated in the opinion gathering exercises.

There were many comments on a wide range of topics. Staff will collate all these, plus information from the online survey, and consider them in their background work on a new official plan.

A casual glance through the responses at the meetings showed two issues that attracted a lot of attention. A desire to protect and improve our water, lakes, wetland and the environment was on many participants minds. Second, focusing growth on hamlets also had broad support.

There will be more opportunities for those who missed stage one to have their say. And everyone will have more opportunities to comment on the concrete proposals as they become available. It will take the better part of two years to complete the process. If you want to be on the contact list for updates please send me a note or contact the planning department.

Repaired Roads

Last winters the many freeze-thaw cycles caused parts of some roads to disintegrate. To address this need about six hundred thousand dollars for urgent repairs and upgrades was added to last summers road work. Murvale Road has been rebuilt and sections of Holleford Road have had major repairs. Thank you for your patience and thank you to those users of other roads where work was delayed by a year to facilitate this urgent work. The last major repair resulting from last winter is the rebuilding of North Shore Road which will happen next summer.

Draft 2020 Budget

The draft Township budget for 2020 has been posted.

Council asked Staff to prepare a budget with a 2% increase over 2019: this draft achieves that goal. Now we have to see what that means in terms of service delivery. That is the work for the next month.

On Tuesday November 5 at 7 pm, there is Council meeting specifically to hear from the public their comments on the draft budget. What should be left in, what should be taken out, and what is missing. If you would like to speak at the meeting please contact the Township Clerk, Angela Maddocks, 613-376-3027. You can also pass along your comments in writing.

Council is debating the full budget at a special meeting on Thursday, November 9 from 9 – 2 in the Council chambers. This meeting is open to the public. Please pass on any thoughts you have; I would be happy to enter them into the debates.

Progress on Signs?

Many people have commented on the “mess”, the “unsightly chaos”, and the “blight on our environment” – take your pick -caused the many signs on Township roads that are fallen over, grown over, tacked to trees, put on Township road signs or simply littering our ditches.

Staff have been asked to report back to the Development Services Committee on how to deal with the mess. The report is expected early in the new year.
Some of the signs advertise directions to events and family parties. Some advertise local businesses and community happenings, all of which seem helpful: though they also can be very unsightly.

If you have comments on a signs-on-public-roads policy, please comment. Do we ban them? Or, are their regulations that could control the clutter and permit the transfer of community information.

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OP, PPS, and Docks

Official Plan Public Input Starts

The first public meeting on the new Official Plan (OP) was poorly attended.  There are two more meeting, please come and tell the Township staff what kind of community you want South Frontenac to be.  Your comments will be reflected in the first draft they produce.

Some issues that will be considered are:  the natural environment, affordable housing, climate change action, bigger but fewer hamlets, agricultural lands, more rural lots, more communal services, and commercial and industrial development.

There are two more meetings: have your say:

There is also an online survey on what kind of Township you want in 20 years. Please fill it in: https://www.southfrontenac.net/en/open-for-business/official-plan.aspx

Provincial Policy Statement Changes

The province has drafted changes to the Provincial Policy Statements (PPS).  These documents outline how development will take place in the province.  Municipalities must work within these guidelines.  They are important.

The PPSs cover: healthy communities, resource management and public health and safety.

While there maybe other significant changes three stood out to me:

1. Under the proposed changes, companies developing an aggregate mine could use rehabilitation measures to argue that the project will have no negative impact on the environment.

This seems to allow an aggregate operator to develop a quarry in an environmentally sensitive area or on prime agricultural land as long as they have a plan to rehabilitate the area when the operation closes.  In other words, companies would be able to dig up a sensitive area, strip the soil, remove the aggregate, and, in the future, replant and argue that there has been no negative impact on the land.

This proposed change would have significant short-term and long-term negative impacts, but it is nonetheless the proposal

2. In a variety of places, the proposed PPS mandates that municipalities develop plans to adapt to climate change. Only once does it mention that actions may be taken to lesson climate change.  It also has a separate section protecting petroleum extraction which could be read to include fracking.

The documents accept that there will be significant changes in the climate, but do not encourage action to lesson the damage from climate change.  This is the “pound of cure is better than an ounce of prevention” strategy. It is neither financially nor environmentally sustainable.

3. The document encourages rural areas to develop communal services, like water and sewer systems. Preference is given to private systems where municipal ones are not “available, planned or feasible”; and feasibility includes a municipalities willingness to pay.

For instance, in a new subdivision or rural land condominium developers would be encouraged to install a private communal water and sewer system.

A few problems immediately come to mind.

  1. It is more expensive for private developers than governments to access capital to develop these systems leading to higher housing prices.
  2. If you had a couple of developers is an area, say around Inverary or Harrowsmith, the services would have different owners and possibly use different technologies making it harder, that is more expensive, to develop a broader community system when that is needed.
  3. As the law currently stands, if any of these private systems fail, the Township is obligated to take them over. The Township’s ultimate liability can be lessened by regulations, covenants, and deposits. All of these require monitoring, and potential legal action, all of which involves more cost above what would be incurred with a municipal system.  And none of which remove the Township’s ultimate liability.

Please read the proposed PPSs on line and comment.  There maybe other sections you find positive or concerning.

Encroachment on Public Lands: Docks

The Township’s Development Services Committee is considering a public land encroachment policy.

Historically, on a case by case basis, private individuals have been allowed to develop on pubic property.  The immediate issue sparking this discussion on whether we need a more uniform approach is the use of the Desert Lake causeway by private, unsanctioned, docks.

The initial discussion focused on a general principle that public lands should be protected for public uses.

When a strong argument can be made, like access to a lot, or historic use of docks for a commercial business, Council could consider granting a long-term lease for encroachment on public land.

 

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Calm Before the Storm

The summer felt like a re-setting time for the Township: the new Chief Administrative Officer started his job, input for the next three years strategic pan was being collected and developing the new Official Plan started. A few other issues were percolating that will also have significant impacts on the Township.

Planning Changes: A Win for Large Developers

Last spring the provincial government passed an omnibus bill, “More Homes, More Choice”. It is not clear that it will lead to more affordable housing, but it will definitely shift planning power strongly in favour of large developers and away from community input and control.

The government has changed the rules Local Planning Appeal Tribunal back to those of the old Ontario Municipal Board which takes power away from local councils: a change that will lead to longer, more expensive legal proceedings, particularly around subdivisions.

The new legislation also shortens the time allowed for Councils and communities to consider new development proposals. Extra reports and community input into both the Johnson’s Point and Hartington developments changed the original developer proposals for the better. Yet this input was not possible even under the longer timeline rules. The situation will be worse with the new shorter timelines.

In our community many residents are away for part of the year: longer timelines are needed to get their input. The number and complexity of studies required for most developments demand time for the community, let alone Township staff and Councillors, to adequately assess them, and get a second opinion if necessary. The legislation also restricts the right of residents and community groups to appeal the Land Tribunal decisions on subdivisions, further limiting public oversight of large developments.

All these changes strongly favour well-financed large developers. The impacts will be felt when new proposals come to Council.

Pyrolysis Proposal

A proposal to turn plastics into energy through a process called pyrolysis appeared on the Public Works Committee agenda this summer.

Concerns about this technology include:

• It burns plastic which produces significant amounts of greenhouse gases in its manufacture and again when it is burnt.
• The technology is very expensive.
• To be efficient it requires a large guaranteed amount of fuel, effectively encouraging more plastic consumption.
• A more pressing and solvable problem is organic waste. Organics make up about 50% of our garbage. Proven technologies that can turn organics into compost or bio-fuel are cost effective, reduce green house gases and can significantly extend the life of our landfills.

Official Plan Redo Officially Started

At the August Council meeting the Official Plan redo was formally initiated. When finished the new plan will play a major role in how the Township develops over the next twenty years.

To be a good plan it needs extensive public input. A good plan will help South Frontenac develop into the community we want it to be.

Writing a new official Plan will take about two years. Your early input early is important. It sets the tone and ensures that the correct questions are answered to create the best Official Plan.

The first series of meetings for community in-put are being held this fall. If you can, come to any one of them:

September 21 – 9am-11 – Glendower Hall, Westport Road
October 3, 7pm-9 – Storrington Lions Club, Battersea Road
October 23, 5pm-7 – Council Chambers, Sydenham

There will also be an opportunity to online input.

Strategic Plan

Council will be considering the community input on our next three year Strategic Plan at a special Committee of the Whole meeting, Tuesday, September 10 from 9am-2. Anyone interested in the discussion is welcome to come. Recommendations from that meeting will go to a regular Council meeting for final approval.

Desert Lake Causeway

After many years of planning upgrading the Desert lake Causeway will start this month. Expect traffic restrictions for a few months. The Causeway will also be completely closed to traffic from late in the day on September 26 to September 29: that is a PA-day weekend for the schools allowing for minimal disruption while the culverts are replaced.

Emerging Items

Committees are considering regulations for cannabis production facilities, dog kennel noise and licensing of docks on public shorelines. Initial reports on these topics are in the August 26 Development Services Committee agenda. 

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Restrictions on Old Schofield Camp Redevelopment

Two years ago the Knights of Columbus sold their Schofield Camp on Buck Lack.  The new owner has undertaken numerous works which have raised concerns that the site would be used for purposes that are not permitted under the current zoning.  Township officials have raised these concerns with the new owner a couple of times since the property was purchased.

Recent ads on South Frontenac Buy and Sale Facebook page indicated a wish to run the  site as a commercial campground.  The following letter was sent from South Frontenac’s Director of Development Services to the owner of the property:

Please be advised that it has been recently brought to the attention of the Township of South Frontenac that the property you own at 6454 Perth Road has been advertised as available to rent on a weekly basis with 4 bunkies and room for 6 campers with power.

As you are aware, the property at 6454 Perth Road is zoned Community Facility (CF) in the South Frontenac Township Zoning By-law (By-law 2003-75).  The CF zoning was on the property prior to your purchase.  Your lawyer was advised of the CF zoning on the property at the time of your purchase in 2017.

The CF zone provisions and relevant definitions are available in the Township’s Zoning By-law which is available on-line athttp://www.southfrontenac.net/en/open-for-business/resources/Planning-and-Development/ComprehensiveZBL-2003-75-Revised-June-2018.pdf.The CF zone is defined in Section 29 and the definitions are listed in section 3 of the by-law.

Renting the property to a group on a weekly basis with the opportunity to bring trailers on-site does not fit within the list of uses permitted in the CF zoning on the property.

Prior email correspondence in July 2018 with Mr. Orr, indicated you should pursue a rezoning application to establish an appropriate zoning on the property to facilitate your short-term plan.

We met in November 2018 to discuss your long-term plans for the property.  At that time it was indicated that any future plans for the property would require a rezoning application be filed for the property and it was suggested that you may wish to engage the services of a planning consultant to assist you with an application.  To date a zoning by-law amendment application has not been submitted for your property.

The bringing of trailers onto the property is prohibited except consistent with the South Frontenac Zoning By-law and the Township Trailer By-law (2004-93).  A copy of the Trailer By-law is also attached for your information.  Please note section 3.1 that states “No person shall use and/or keep a trailer on any property within the Township except in a Trailer Park, where the use is permitted and conforms to the Township of South Frontenac Comprehensive Zoning By-law.”

Until the Zoning is changed on the property, only activities that clearly comply with the CF zone shall be permitted.

Please contact me directly to discuss the situation and how you wish to move forward in compliance with the South Frontenac Zoning By-law and Trailer By-law.

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Planning Playing

Township-wide recreation planning is coming to South Frontenac: catching up to most other Township services.

For the last 20 years recreation planning has been organized around the four pre-amalgamation Township, now district, boundaries. District recreation committees were appointed by Council. The four district committees then appointed members to the South Frontenac Recreation Committee that recommended policy to Council.

Over the last 20 years our population has grown. Recreation facility maintenance, activity scheduling, and user coordination, tasks historically done by the district committees, are now primarily delivered by Township staff. New activities, like cycling, pickle ball and more festivals, have emerged. Long-time activities, like field sports, now use parks in all the districts. These changes have made the District Committee structure less relevant.

In June, for a one-year trial, Council adopted a township-wide recreation committee structure. One committee will focus on developing proposals for Community facilities, primarily halls, parks and sports fields. Another committee will concentrate on polices for recreational programming and events in the Township. Each committee will have eight community members plus Councillors.

Most recreational activities in the Township are driven by local interests and community volunteers. This will continue. It is essential if programs are to meet the needs of new and long-standing of residents. The goal of the new committee structure is to develop effective policies on how Township’s resources can best support existing community-based recreational activities and meet the recreational needs of the community.

The Township is looking for members of the two new recreation committees. If you would like to join one please submit your name. Follow this link for details on how to apply. The deadline for applications is July 26.

Even if you are not formally appointed to a committee, I have asked that the committee meetings be open, that there be generous provisions for non-members to speak, and that extensive contact lists be kept of interested residents to solicit many opinions on issues under discussion. Putting our name forward will help make the process stronger.

Waste Collection Tweak or Redo

It has been nine years since garbage and a recycling pick up was publicly tendered. This is a long time since the theoretical value of contracting-out is from competition generated in the tendering process.

The delay in bidding for a new contract seemed prudent due to uncertainty about what services the province would require the Township to offer. While the uncertainty has not changed, it is still not clear how the new producer responsibility for recycling will actually operate, it is time is time to tender for waste and recycling pickup.

A new tender is a good time to make needed changes to the way garbage and recycling pick up is done. The Township can write into the tender the specifications that it thinks are important.

Some changes being considered by staff include:

  • Filling up the smaller dumps, like Green Bay and Bradshaw, and closing them. This would save money on staff but provide inconvenience to nearby residents.
  • Closing the Loughborough dump to the public.
  • Requiring all contractors to have trucks no older than 7 years, to limit swill leakage.
  • Only have curbside pick up for residents on Township roads. This would create fairness across the Township, but remove a historical service from some residents who live on private lanes.
  • Have pick-up on both sides of the road so residents do not have to cross the road to put-out their garbage and recycling.

One proposal not put forward by staff is to increase our municipally owned pickup. More, or exclusive, in-house pickup would make it cheaper and easier to meet emerging needs and regulations: the Township would not have to break, or renegotiate contracts, with private providers. Second, it guarantees that more jobs and money stay local.

How would you like to see garbage and recycling pick up changed?

Please pass along your suggestions.

Strategic Plan

Meeting for public input on the Township’s Strategic Plan for the next 3 years will be held on:

  • August 1 at Glendower Hall;
  • August 7 at the Storrington Centre;
  • August 13 at the Verona Lion’s Hall; and,
  • August 20 at the township council chambers in Sydenham.

If you are unable to make a meeting you can submit your priorities online or by sending note to the Township office.

Lake and Trails Festival

The Third Annual Lakes and Trails Festival is on July 20th from 9-2 in the Point Park, Sydenham. Come anytime: all events, music and lunch are free. Events include cycling, a historic walk of Sydenham, boating and a live music concert. A full listing of events and times can be found at the Lakes and Trials Festival website.

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Future Matters: Official Plan, Roads and CAO

It’s Happening: The New Official Plan

South Frontenac’s current Official Plan, the basic rules that guide our community’s development, was written 20 years ago. It reflected the needs of the Township then; much has since changed.

Over the next year, to meet current needs, and address our visions and concerns for the next 20 years, we will be writing a new Official Plan. It will only be as good as your input.

In the next 15 years South Frontenac’s population is projected to increase by 2,767 and there could be 1500 new residential buildings. Where will this development take place? And what should residents be able to do?

Lake protection, limited ground-water resources, the number and size of hamlets, protecting agricultural land, commercial and industrial development, climate change and what small businesses can go where, are all issues that will be considered.

Details of the new official plan process will be decided by Council on August 6. Assuming they pass, three public meetings will be held in the fall: each meeting will ask for public input on three main topics areas:

1) Lakes and natural environment
2) Rural lands and economy
3) Settlement areas and community

The Township will also commission a Growth Management Study to comment on the impacts of the Township’s projected growth. This study, plus your input, will be the basis for a new draft Official Plan which will be brought back for more public input.

Watch for the times and places of the public meetings and please participate. This will be one of the most important decisions effecting our next 20 years.

The Strategic Plan

Council is also creating a strategic plan to help prioritize our budgeting, use of staff time and new initiatives over the next three and half years.

Have Your Say

An online survey, open to all residents, will start in mid June. There will be public meetings held in each district. Loughborough’s strategic plan meeting is in the evening of Tuesday, August 20. Watch for more detailed information in the tax bill, in the newspaper announcements and on the web site.

The Roads Are Bad

This spring the roads were particularly bad.

The multiple freeze-thaw cycles coupled with the usual winter and spring stressors caused some roads to virtually explode. Large sections of hard top just pulverized, far beyond the normal and what could be reasonably fixed with usual patching methods.
Sections of 12 roads, North Shore Road, Holleford Road, and Loughborough Portland Boundary Road in Loughborough, were identified by staff and the public as in need of extraordinary repairs. The cost of these emergency repairs is unbudgeted and just under a million dollars.

We can expect to see more unexpected and costly repairs driven partially by the emerging climate crisis. The effects of climate change have been felt with the winter roads budget increasing faster than the overall budget: largely driven by more freezing rain incidents.

In the short term, staff will be bringing back a report on how to move money within the roads budget to do necessary repairs on the 12 roads.

The longer-term questions are, what budget and staffing alterations are required to meet the emerging climate crisis? What should we be doing to limit the impact of climate change? These are big questions. How we answer them will have profound effects on our community’s future stability.

Lakes and Trails Festival

The third annual Lakes and Trails Festival is on July 20 from 9 to 2, in the Point Park, Sydenham. A variety of cycling, paddling and walking activities are the focus of the event. The dragon boat is returning as is the historic walk of Sydenham, the family bike, the bike-around-the-lake, and Frontenac Outfitters’ boats.

There will be children’s concert with Gary Raspberry at 11am and the Saggy Bottom Boyz  will play a lunch hour concert. All the events, including the community lunch, prepared by volunteers and South Frontenac Community Services, are free. Everyone is welcome. Come anytime.

For a full schedule, and a list of our generous sponsors, visit lakesandtrailsfestival.org.

By the way, it is not too late to donate and help keep the Festival going: you get a tax return. See you all on July 20th.

Welcome to Neil, the New CAO

After 10 years at the administrative helm, Wayne Orr is retiring as the Township’s Chief Administrative Officer. Thank you, Wayne, for all you have done.

Neil Carbone, most recently from Prince Edward County, will taking over as CAO in mid July. More information on Neil can be found in the Township’s media release.

 

 

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The Big Ones

Some of the Township’s big priorities – roads, waste management, planning enforcement, taxes and provincial downloading – have been on last months agendas.

First the Facts

In preparation for recommendations on how Frontenac County and its Townships might get more provincial road grants, Frontenac County compared itself to four other Counties (Presentation on Regional Roads Network ) : Lanark, Hastings, Lennox and Addington (L+A) and the United Counties of Leads and Grenville (UCL+G).
Frontenac County has:

• significantly fewer lane kilometres of road than Lanark, Hasting and UCL+G,
• fewer bridges and culverts than all four,
• the lowest taxes,
• the lowest road expenditures, but also the highest percent of its budget spent on roads, and
• the largest reserves.

South Frontenac Township spends less per kilometre of road ($6,721) than Lanark County ($7,955), L+A County ($8,658) and UGL+G ($7,865). Within Frontenac County, South Frontenac spends more per kilometre than the other three Frontenac Townships. South Frontenac spends 49% of its budgets on roads and has about 16 million dollars in reserves.

Not Enough Provincial Grants

The County summed up the data this way: Frontenac County has 17% of the five counties’ road network, 16% of the assessment, 20% of the land area, and 13% of the bridges & culverts, but only receives 10% of the grant dollars. The County calculates that if we received grants at a level similar to the other counties, Frontenac County and its Townships would get about $4.34 million more per year.

The County’s proposal is that the Township’s sign over 1% ownership of a road network to the County effectively creating a County road system and the ability to apply for upper tier level infrastructure grants. A proposal to fund further work on this option is coming to Council in May.

Waste Collaboration

The public works managers in Frontenac County’s four Townships have been discussing greater regional cooperation on waste disposal possibly including all of Eastern Ontario. Frontenac Waste Management Review

Most of the discussion is centred on recycling, yet 50% of total garbage is organics. With the volume of organics in the larger region industrial composting and bio digesting of organics to produce gas become possible. Planning to get organics out of landfills is arguably the most useful next step in waste reduction.

Landfill Lifetime Expands

This year’s elevation  of South Frontenac’s landfills (Cambium – Annual Update on Waste Disposal Sites) found that the lifetime of our dumps has increased 6 years to 26 years. This positive news is the result of numerous factors, not least of which is greater waste diversion. The extra time will save the Township money, and allow for more consideration of post-landfill options and for changes in government policy: all of which are needed.

Compliance with Subdivision Conditions

Conditions are placed on developments to improve and protect the social and environmental fabricate of Township. They make clear who pay for which costs of development. For these conditions to be effective proper oversight is necessary. Concerns over developer’s adherence to the conditions of approval are often raised by residents.
The Development Services Committee is recommending to Council that the Township hire a consulting engineer to help implement the conditions of approval for subdivisions and condominiums. If passed, the policy will be a significant step for the Township and the residents that live in our new subdivisions/ condominiums.

Provincial Downloading Starts

Three agencies that are close partners of the Township: Conservation Authorities, Public Health Units, and libraries, have had significant reductions in their provincial funding. The Township has a funding responsibility for all of these organisations. To maintain their services the Township will need to pay more money. The province has effectively downloaded some of the costs for these needed services to property tax payers.

New Township Administration Building

The Township is growing and as it grows it needs more staff to maintain services and meet new demands: more scrutiny over development, better roads, more speed control, better fire services and more recreation services. They all take staff.

The Township also has a responsibility to provide safe and reasonable working conditions. Currently we have multiple staff working in rooms meant for one person. We need more space.

Council has set aside 2.75 million dollars in the capital reserve for new administrative offices within five years. Council has withdrawn the Township from consideration of a joint administration building with the County and the Conservation Authority is looking at the feasibility of expanding the current administration building.

 

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