Water Meter Report to October 2 Council Meeting

The Public Works Committee is bring forward the following recommendation to Council on October 2, 2017.  If passed it will affect water rates and service.

RECOMMENDATION

 That Council approve Resolution No. PSC-09/21-02 of the Public Services Committee:

“That the Agreement dated April 4, 2017 between Utilities Kingston and the Township of South Frontenac for the operation and maintenance of the water system be amended to include provision of water meter services.”

BACKGROUND

 Since the Municipal Water System came into being in 2005, the issuance of water meters, installation and reading has been somewhat decentralized. In addition, our current water meter technology is becoming obsolete.

Staff have had discussions with Utilities Kingston regarding adopting their approach and expertise to the provision of water meter services in South Frontenac.

With this in mind, we have requested a proposal from Utilities Kingston with regard to:

  • Meter replacement to upgrade to current technology and to align with Utilities Kingston
  • Meter reading hardware and software and/or meter reading services
  • Water meter installation

It should be noted that we are somewhat exposed by our current practice for water meter installation and need to become more formalized from a risk management perspective.

The Water Bylaw will need to be updated to reflect these proposed changes. In addition, the current charge for a water meter is $25. An amended Bylaw will address the actual costs and at what point they will be billed. These changes would form a part of a communication strategy to property owners should these changes be approved.

A new clause 2.8 is proposed for the current agreement as well as a Table 9 in Appendix A. (Attached)

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

 An amount of $470/meter is proposed for replacement and new installations. This work would be undertaken by certified Utilities Kingston personnel. An amount of

$50,000 will be proposed in the 2018 Budget so that half of our water meters will be brought up to current standards.

The cost to read meters is $1.90/meter. This aspect of the proposal will be revisited once existing meters have been upgraded

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Beginnings and Endings

The 2018 budget discussions have begun.  Staff presented some “high level” considerations for next years budget and for the Township’s financial situation over the next 10 years. Both reports can be found in the September 19th Council agenda, item 8(c). 

The largest capital expense over the next 10 years is $7 million to upgrade Road 38.  It has become clear, after years of trying, that the province is very unlikely to take over maintaining 38.  South Frontenac will stay one of the few Townships that has to maintain all of the public roads within its boundaries. The initial proposal is that reserves will be used to fund most of the Road 38 work: a positive step which avoids either borrowing money or significantly raising taxes.

Other large items include $1.5 million for intersection redevelopment, $1.5 million to enhance recreational facilities and $1 million for a new library in Verona.

The roads capital budget also recommended no gravel roads be hard topped for the next 5 years.  I have asked for a priority listing of gravel roads needing a hard surface and the relative costs of maintaining gravel roads compared to hard topped roads.

The proposed long range financial plan assumes a budget increase of 2% a year.  However, the roads budget would increase by 5% a year.  Included in these assumptions are a new fire hall every three years at a cost of $1.5 million each; new administrative offices in 2022, $2.75 million; and improvements to the Keely Road public works facilities in 2019, $1.5 million. These costs are on top of ongoing investments in buildings, parks, fire and rescue services, planning, new staff, OPP station upgrades and general administration of the Township.

Council had a wide-ranging discussion on the validity of these assumptions and directed staff to come back with a 2018 budget proposal and revised long-range plan that keeps tax increases at 2% and maintains reserves at 10 million dollars: current reserves are approximately $15 million.

Council is just beginning the 2018 budget process.  If you have any comments on any of these proposals please send them along.  Council will hear delegations from the public on specific items in the budget, or the Township’s overall financial direction, on November 7.  A full draft budget will be available the week before.

Endings – Finally

For the better part of two years Council has considered the assumption of non-public roads, the regulation of outdoor wood burning furnaces and the use of social media. In September Council passed bylaws on all these issues.

Assuming Roads

It has never been clear under what conditions, if any, non-assumed public roads and right-of-ways could be assumed by the Township for full maintenance as pubic roads. There is now a process.

The policy states that if a series of conditions are met the Township will assume right of ways. The main conditions are that the road be brought up to Township standards, the section to be assumed must be connected to a public road and any sections of the road not owned by the Township must be transferred to the Township at no cost.

Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces

A bylaw regulating outdoor wood burning furnaces was passed that sets minimum setbacks from neighboring buildings, restricts their use in the summer time, gives Council authority to act if a furnace is considered to “unreasonably interfere with another individuals use and enjoyment of their property”, and prohibits their use in hamlets.  Existing outdoor furnaces in hamlets can be replaced if they meet the setback requirements. The full bylaw is item 10(a) in the September 5 Council agenda.

Social Media

Council and staff have entered the social media age.  Council passed a social media policy  which will establish an official South Frontenac Facebook page and twitter account to send out information to the public. Watch for them and join.

All three bylaws, road assumptions, social media and outdoor furnaces, are initial attempts are regulating these areas.  Changes can be made when we see how these provisions work in practice.

 

 

 

 

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Social Media Policy

At the September 5, 2017 Council meeting the following social media policy was passed:

Purpose

 This Social Media Policy establishes clear expectations and standards for the use of Social Media by the South Frontenac Township.

Objective

 The distribution of useful information to the residents of South Frontenac Township through widely used Social Media platforms. Provide greater accessibility and transparency of Township business that will promote community engagement and market the Township to a broader audience.

Definitions:

 Social Media: a collection of web based applications and tools that people use to share content, profiles, insights, experiences and perspectives that facilitate online conversations and interactions between groups of people.

Authorized Poster: Individuals approved by the Township to represent and post content to social media on behalf of the Township. Authorized Posters are the only persons with permission to communicate through social media on behalf of the Township.

User: All users of social media other than the Township’s Authorized Posters.

Procedure

 The Townships website www.Southfrontenac.net will remain the Townships primary and predominant internet presence for in-depth information, forms and online documents. All social media sites will be used as a secondary information source, and will direct visitors back to the appropriate section of the Township website.

Media types: 

  • Facebook is a social networking website intended to connect friends, family and business associates – good news stories and
  • Twitter is a free-access, text-based social networking service. User updates, known as “tweets”, are posts of up to 140 characters. New “tweets” are displayed on the user’s web profile page and can be sent to their “followers” or those in their circle of

Authorized Posters 

The CAO or designate and the Executive Assistant are the only Township employees that are authorized to post and remove content from the Township’s Social Media accounts.

No other Township employees or members of the public are authorized to post content on behalf of the South Frontenac Township.

If an employee of the Township wishes to post content to the Township’s social media account that has not been featured on the ‘News and Public Notice’ section of the Township website (http://www.southfrontenac.net/en/news/search.aspx), a request must be submitted to the CAO.

Use 

Authorized Posters shall not comment, reply or engage in any form of direct communication with Social Media users.

Authorized Posters shall only post or distribute content that is related to furthering the Townships interests in a manner that protects the Corporation’s reputation.

There is no minimum requirement for posting content – Content shall be posted only if the material has been previously published on the ‘News and Public Notice’ section of the Township website (http://www.southfrontenac.net/en/news/search.aspx) or approved by the CAO.

Communication through social media and the use of associated technology, will take place during regular business hours and must comply with all other relevant corporate policies, procedures and guidelines as well as provincial and federal legislation.

Disclaimer 

Third-party Social Media sites are private businesses with their own terms of service and privacy policies. The Township does not accept any responsibility for the operation of third-party Social Media sites and is unable to guarantee the privacy of individuals who access content provided to such sites by the Township. Images and comments posted by third parties do not represent the views of the Township. The Township will not be responsible for any losses or damages suffered as a result of using third party Social Media Sites. Those using social media participate at their own risk and for their own benefit; and in doing so accept that they have no right of action against Township related to such use. The Townships Social Media sites are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis. The Township makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express of implied, as to the sites’ operation or the information, content or materials included on these sites.

 

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Road Assumptions

Council passed the following policy on the assumption of non-subdivision roads at its September 5 2017 meeting.

RECOMMENDATIONS

 That Council adopt the criteria outlined in Report to Council dated September 5, 2017 for Assumption of Non-Subdivision Roads.

BACKGROUND

 The issue arises from time to time as to the process whereby the Township assumes the responsibility for the maintenance of Township owned ROW’s that are traversed by private lanes.

To date, the response to these inquires has been that if the various Lane Associations or individuals are prepared to build up the relevant sections within the Township owned ROW to Township approved standards, Council would then consider assumption.

The Public Services Committee has initiated a formalized process for assumption of lanes on both Township owned and non-owned ROW’s. The following criteria are proposed for assumption. If all criteria are met then the Township WILL assume the applicable sections of road. It should be noted that this process does not apply to Plans of Condominiums. It is less expensive to develop under this approach than Plans of Subdivision that require Public Roads Standards, including sidewalks.

CRITERIA 

  • ROW to be built to Public Roads Standards. (attached)
  • Section to be assumed must be connected to a public road and continuous.
  • The section of private lane must be assumable and continuous from a Public Road including a turnaround at the end of the section to be assumed.
  • For sections of private lanes that fall within non-Township owned ROW’s, the property owners must be prepared to transfer ownership, at no cost, to the
  • More than 50% of property owners, who will utilize the ROW, must be in favour of assumption by the
  • In addition to approved public road standards, asphalt surface is required in plans of subdivisions and
  • Sidewalk requirements in hamlets on cul-de-sacs generally greater than 150 m in
  • Turn around required at end of

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Based on the approved 2017 Operating Budget, road maintenance is estimated to cost, on average, approximately $5,000 per centerline kilometer. It must be recognized that all public roads within South Frontenac are Township owned so the figure of 800 centerline kilometer includes everything from arterial roads, which cost significantly more to maintain, to dead end gravel roads

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Sounds of Silence, Rushing and Success

Limiting Public Involvement

A chart outlining the subdivision/condominium approval process for was presented at the August Council meeting.

What stood out was the lack of public engagement in the process: a lack particularly shocking because this Council had spent a significant amount of time passing a bylaw to improve public notification and opportunities for the public to have their say.

When the County took over the approval process for subdivisions and condominiums, South Frontenac Council asked the County to use our public notification regulations for all proposals in South Frontenac. The County rejected our proposal. County staff say they are working on their own guidelines.

The proposed approval process is a significant step backwards on public engagement and input. South Frontenac residents must now present their concerns to a County committee dominated by residents from outside of South Frontenac, and they will only be given two weeks notice before the official public meeting. There is also a vague reference to notification when the complete application is submitted to the County.

Most in the community will now only hear the sounds of silence on proposed subdivisions and condominiums.

To Improve the process Township Council approved a motion that a public notification be sent out when the initial subdivision concept is presented to the Township. A more formal notice, with a large road sign at the development site will be placed when the full application is verified by the County. And, a further notice, with opportunities for delegations to Township Council, will be given before Council makes its final recommendations to the County. While this is not perfect, it makes the best of a tight County timeline.

The most useful step would be for the Township to take over the approval process: a project for the next couple of years.

A Success – 40-foot Lots Not Supported by Staff

The Shield Shores condominium proposal on Dog Lake proposed back lots with 40 feet of water access frontage. The proposal is contrary to the intent of our Official Plan and zoning bylaws which calls for water front lots having 300-foot frontage.

Many people and lake associations expressed their concerns about this proposal to the Township and County. Township planning staff recommend that these private rights of way to the lake should not be allowed.

The County still has to make a decision on the Shield Shores proposal. If you would like to express your concerns about the 40-foot private access points send your comments to:

Ron Higgins, Mayor of North Frontenac and Chair of the County’s Planning Advisory Committee, ron.higgins@xplornet.com, and

Joe Gallivan, Director Planning, jgallivan@frontenaccounty.ca.

Rushing Development Misses Important Problem

Council was unable to make recommendations to the County on the Shield Shores subdivision because, on the day before the proposals were to be considered, our staff determined that the shoreline is a shallow water body. Developments on shallow water bodies have stricter conditions. Neither the developer nor the County had investigated this fact that was raised at the public meeting. Congratulations to our staff on following up.

The oversite is emblematic of a process that separates the approval process, in our case the County, from the Township staff that does the work and the community most affected. Again, it is necessary to bring the approval for larger developments under Township control.

Back Lot Development?

Many people have raised the fact that the condominium proposal includes back lots. Other condos and subdivisions have also had similar back lot development.

The Township Official plan also does support back lot development: (section 5.7.7 ii c)
“no development shall be permitted on existing private roads or extensions thereto which would have the effect of creating new lots without water frontage on a private road which services primarily waterfront residential developments (i.e. no back-lot development).”

There is some confusion because this clause is in the section on severances and not in the sections on Condominiums and subdivisions. The advanced state of the Shield Shores proposal makes any objection on this point difficult, but this concern has merit.

Council needs to be more vigilant on future developments, and, more importantly, changes are needed to the Official Plan to make the prohibition on back lots clear.

A Well Used Point

The redevelopment of the Point Park is finished and wonderful. It was also well used, with Canada Day, the Triathlon, the Lakes and Trails Festival and a Sydenham Canoe Club regatta all drawing large crowds. Many thinks to all the volunteers, participants and staff who made these events a success.

Bedford Road Construction

Council has approved a 1.5-million-dollar contract to reconstruct Bedford Road from the Sydenham dam to Alton road. Construction will start this fall and finish next July.

 

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Outdoor Solid Fuel Burning Appliance By-law

Council will be considering a report at the August 1, 2017 Council meeting regarding the regulation of outdoor solid fuel burning appliances. Anyone wishing to address Council on this matter should contact the Clerks Department no later than 12:00 noon July 27, 2017 for delegation status.

The draft by-law  is available on the Township website.

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The New Norm: 40 Foot Lake Front Lots?

A new waterfront lot with only 40 feet of frontage was given approval in principle at the last Committee of the Whole meeting in June. The zoning bylaw calls for new lots to have a minimum of 300 feet of frontage. In addition, the lot is 1.73 acres instead of the minimum 2.5 acres required in the zoning bylaw.

The argument was made that the piece of water front was not used and the lot was a special case. Latter in the same meeting support was given for Shield Shores, a new condominium subdivision proposed for Dog Lake, which includes three functional small water front lots over right of ways to back lots.

It was argued that these are not lots, they are ‘Right of Ways’ attached to back lots. That is true. Nonetheless, they provide deeded access to the water, just like a lot, and sole access to the water, just like a lot. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….

The Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw support large lake front lots to protect lakes. These small access frontages encourage back lot development, or subdivisions, on lakes, increasing the concentration of septic systems near shorelines. Second, large lots encourage natural shorelines: shoreline that provides habitat for 90% of the water’s species and provides a barrier to surface runoff. Both important factors in lake health. Many small lot access points increase the number of necessary shoreline disruptions.

It is reasonable for these small lake front owners to bring in some patio stones, create a fire pit, set up lawn chairs and a mesh bug tent next to the water. A BBQ and folding table would be appropriate, as well as a small pump house type of storage shed for supplies. Many would want to use a four-wheeler creating a significant path. All of these options are allowed in the current condominium proposal and in our zoning bylaws.

The Conservation Authority is recommending that there should be no docks at these access points though the developer is still arguing for small docks to accommodate non-motorized boats. Regardless of the final agreement, it would be unreasonable to limit the use of canoes and kayaks from these small water access points. And there will be continued pressure to build small docks.

It is worth noting that the Shield Shores condominium proposal has a common water access point for back lots in addition to the three narrow private access points and the maximum number of waterfront lots allowed on the site. The majority of Council gave approval to these provisions. Councillors Schjerning, Roberts and Revill all voiced their support. Councillor Sleeth joined them in supporting the creation of a lot with 40 foot frontage.

I would be interested in your comments on creating these narrow, about 40-foot-wide, functional lake front lots. It is a trend that has also started to show up at the Committee of Adjustment and one that I am concerned will weaken the health of our lakes.

Perth Road Fire Hall

A recommendation for a contractor to build the Perth Road Fire Hall is scheduled to come to Council on July 11. If all goes well, by the time of my next Councillor’s Report shovels will be in the ground.

Lake Reports

The Cataraqui Conservation Authority has produced monitoring reports on most lakes in the Township. They can be found at: www.crca.ca/lake-reports.
Water Quality and Vulnerability in South Frontenac

There will be a public meeting on Water Quality and its vulnerability in South Frontenac on August 22 in the Community Room of the Sydenham Library from 6:30-9pm. The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Sydenham’s History

A map of Sydenham’s many interesting historic sites can now be found on line at: http://www.southfrontenac.net/en/things-to-do/historical-walking-tour-of-sydenam.asp . Thanks to Gini Trousdale, Wilma Kenny and the County for the website work.

The First Annual Lakes and Trails Festival

The first annual Lakes and Trails Festival is being held in Sydenham on July 15 from 10am to 2pm. Everyone is welcome and all events are free. It is being held at the Point Park. Featured activities include: a Bike Around the Lake; a Cycle Skills Rodeo; paddling on the lake; a historic walking tour of Sydenham Village; and a community BBQ.

A full Schedule of events, prizes and sponsors can be found at: https://lakesandtrailsfestival.org/.

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