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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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/.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lawyers and Lessons

Business was slow around the council circle in May. However, lawyers and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) had a busy month with 11 days of hearings in the Township Hall. Both the Hartington subdivision and the 30 meters lake protection bylaw appeal were heard. Decisions are expected in a few months.

Important Words

OMB hearings show how important the words and ideas in our official plan (OP) and zoning bylaws are. These are two of the four main documents used in determining how development will take place in the Township. The other two are provincial: the Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statements.

The importance of our OP and zoning bylaw will increase, if, as proposed by the government, the Ontario Municipal Board is abolished. Greater power is proposed for municipal councils to make the final decisions on development.

The suggested new process will allow development decisions to be overturned only if they do not follow provincial policies or municipal plans. The new “Local Planning Appeal Tribunal” will, if a violation is found, rather than determining the final development, refer it back to the local Council for re-working.

These changes make it more important that we have an up-to-date Official Plan and zoning bylaw that reflect the wishes of the community.

Hamlets

The fact that Hartington is a “settlement area” listed in our OP was important in the planning discussion at the OMB. The provincial government’s Policy Statements direct that “settlement areas” or hamlets should be prioritized for development.

One of the ways we can control development is by being clear on what areas should be hamlets. Our Township has many small historic hamlets. Hartington is one of these, as well as in Loughborough, Rialton, Perth Road, Wilmer and Spaffordton. Do we want subdivision developments in these areas? Should we be more restrictive of development in rural areas? Should we prioritize a few hamlets for more development and make them commercial hubs for the community?

The Hartington hearing pointed to hamlets and hamlet boundaries as one of the urgent issues to consider in a community rewrite of our Official Plan.

Poor Water Areas

The Hartington appeal, regardless of the outcome, highlighted that we do not have policies that adequately protect and improve ground water quantity and quality. This is an oversite for a township with many areas of poor water quality and quantity and one that will rely on private wells for the foreseeable future.

The Conservation Authorities’ recent identification of water recharge zones and areas of ground water vulnerability, the provincial source water protection initiatives and current research on septic systems and water quality provide more information that we need to consider in directing development. Ground water is another area that needs to be addressed in a new Official Plan.

Monitoring

The Hartington subdivision hearing also questioned whether the Township and County can ensure that conditions put on subdivisions proposals are completed before development can begin. Last year, Council echoed this concern by proposing to hire an outside consultant to oversea the implementation of conditions on all ongoing subdivision/condominium developments.

It is common, and often reasonable, to say to a developer, if these conditions are met then the development can proceed. The developer takes the risk of trying to meet the conditions (if they are not met than the development can not proceed and the investment is lost). On the other hand, there is an assurance that if the conditions are met then the development will proceed.

For this approach to work, the community needs confidence that any conditions placed on the development, for instance around water, traffic, noise, lights, aesthetics, and other improvements beneficial to the community, are met.

The proposal to hire a consultant was put on hold pending the hiring of new Manager of Planning and Development. That has been done and a motion is coming to the next Council meeting asking for a report on the Township’s ability, in terms of resources and process, to ensure that conditions placed on developments are met.

Summer Activities

In addition to our regular summer activities there is a Township wide Canada 150th celebration taking place in Centennial Park, Harrowsmith on August 26. The first annual Lakes and Trails Festival is being held in Sydenham on July 15 from 10am-2pm. More information can be found at: https://lakesandtrailsfestival.org/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Noise and Notification

Concerts by the Lake

For decades Desert Lake Campground has been having up to 12 open air concerts a summer on the shores of Desert Lake. For decades residents have complained about the noise negatively affecting their quality of life. Over the past couple of summers this conflict has “come to a head” with the OPP being called. New owners of the resort responded last summer by ending the concerts ended at 11pm. The Township responded by saying that the noise bylaw must be respected.

South Frontenac’s noise bylaw was passed to regulate noise that is “likely to disturb” residents: including electronically amplified music that “disturbs the peace and comfort of a person.” The Campground needed and, last winter, applied for an exemption to the noise bylaw to hold open air concerts this summer.

Council has granted other exemptions. The Great Canadian Guitar Festival has been exempted, as were the mud drag races and, occasionally, family celebrations, like weddings. Last year, fireworks were further restricted primarily to maintain some semblance of peace and quiet in the evenings.

There are over 40 campgrounds in the Township and none have regular live bands. Maybe because they offer a peaceful vacation, most of our campgrounds are full most of the time. Campgrounds are not meant to be concert venues: it is not compatible with lake life. Sound travels on lakes making lakes close residential communities. It is hard to imagine why a loud music event would be allowed in any residential community, urban or rural, on a regular basis.

Seven Councilors voted in favour of a noise bylaw exemption that will permit four live music concerts at Desert Lake Campground this summer. I and Councilor Revill voted against. The exemption includes a stipulation that the concerts must end at 10pm and bylaw enforcement will be present. Whether further exemptions are granted next year will partially depend on the response of the residents and the Campground to this year’s concerts.

The exemption allowed by Council will likely continue the tension between the campground and residents. It will continue to hurt the quality of life on the lake and sets a precedent that could undercut all communities in South Frontenac.

Notification for Subdivisions Proposals

Last year South Frontenac Council passed expanded notification for public input on proposed subdivisions to allow all residents, permanent and seasonal, a reasonable opportunity to comment. When Frontenac County took over the all aspects of the subdivision approval process Council forwarded our expanded notification provisions to the County for adoption.

The County is now asking for public input on the suitability of expanded notification for residents.

Our Council supported more notification for two main reasons. New subdivision and condominium proposals are complicated, involving many studies and issues, like water is low water areas, proximity to wetlands, and overcrowding on lakes and roads. To prepare adequate comment on these proposals takes time.

Second, many residents of South Frontenac are away for significant amounts of time during the year. Expanding notification gives the time needed to notify these residents and for them to comment.

If you wish to comment on the importance of extended notification please contact the County by May 29: Mail to: County Clerk, Frontenac County, 2069 Battersea Road, Glenburnie, ON, K0H 1S0; or, email your comments to: info@frontenaccounty.ca.

The requirement to ask for something that has already been supported by South Frontenac is another reason that we need to bring back full control over subdivisions to the Township.

OMB Hearings

May will be a busy month for South Frontenac at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
Two weeks have been set aside to hear the appeal of the County’s approval of a 13-unit subdivision in Hartington. The hearing starts on May 8 at 11 am.

The appeal of the changes to the zoning bylaw intended to add clarity to the 2003 rules on development in the 30-meter buffer around lakes is scheduled for two days starting May 25 at 10:30am.

Either hearing could not proceed if the sides reach an agreement ahead of time. Both hearings will take place in the Township Council Chambers. The Hearings are open to the public.

Bedford Road Improvements

Bedford Road from the CRCA dam in Sydenham to Alton road, including the Bedford- Portland Corner, is scheduled for redevelopment this year. A meeting to review the proposal from Public Works and invite comments from the public is being held on Wednesday, May 10 from 7-9 pm in the Township Hall. Everyone is welcome. Come along, find out what is proposed and have your say.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire and Water

 

Vulnerable Ground Water

One presentation at a recent Conservation Authority session on vulnerable ground water showed that South Frontenac is one of three “hot spots” in Ontario for contaminated ground water.  The study added to previous work that mapped the extensive areas of vulnerable ground water in South Frontenac.

Early results, using genetic analysis on bacteria in our ground water, indicate that the main cause of the contamination is human waste, primarily from septic systems.  A much larger study in the United States, using a similar technique, found that areas with high septic system concentrations had the highest rates of water human waste contamination.  The 2015 U.S. study can be read at:  http://www.pnas.org/content/112/33/10419.full.

 

Water Quality Protection

Council continues to wander around options to protect ground and lake water from septic systems.

Our Chief Building Official (CBO) surprised the Corporate Services Committee by suggesting that many of the ideas raised in the last few years for septic system inspection may not be legal, that is outside of the scope of Council. The suggestions may not be allowed under the Building Code. While there is considerable debate around what can be done, other Townships are introducing septic system programs to protect their ground and lake water.

The CBO also informed the Committee that the Province has introduced an amendment to the Building Code that would make it mandatory to have sceptic tanks pumped at least every five years.  The wording of the proposed amendment can be read at: https://rosssutherlandloughborough.net/2017/03/16/monitoring-septic-systems/

If the province passes this amendment, it would create more options for a Township program.  Since most people already have their systems pumped at least every five years any cost increase would be small, just enough to fill in a form that the tank was pumped.  For the Township, there would be relatively small data entry and education costs.  A program focused on regular pumping would also identify potential high risk septic systems for further attention.

A discussion at Council found that most Councillors were opposed to supporting the proposed amendment to the Building Code. A positive step for those interested in protecting our ground and lake water quality would be to write to the Provincial Government and encourage the passing of the building code amendment on septic system pumping. Send your comments to:  Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs, bmauro.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org.

 

Air Quality Protection

Some Verona residents raised concerns about air pollution from outdoor wood furnaces.  The Corporate Services Committee is now considering this issue.  The Committee meetings are open to the public with the agendas and minutes posted on the Council website.

There are many reasons to support wood burning as a source of heat.  There is also little doubt that the conventional outdoor wood furnaces produce a lot of smoke and particulate pollution.  The smouldering burn in these conventional furnaces is the primary cause of the pollution.

One option being discussed is to permit a type of outdoor wood furnace that uses a method called “gasification” that burns much cleaner and has the added benefit of using substantially less wood.   This option would allow existing conventional units in hamlets to continue but when they are replaced they would have to be replaced with a “gasification “unit.  In rural areas, the proposal would allow new conventional units if they were located a significant distance from property lines.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposal and any other ideas on outdoor wood furnaces. The Corporate Services Committee will make a recommendation to Council. If Council wants to change the rules on outdoor wood furnaces a public hearing would have to take place before any bylaw changes could be made. In other words, we have time for a full discussion.

 

New Planning-Development Manager

The Township has finally hired a Planning and Development Manger, Forbes Simon.  He has a wealth of experience in rural municipal planning.  As discussed in previous posts, South Frontenac has a multitude of planning and development issues, from the application and approval process to the need to make the Township the final approval authority for subdivisions.  It is a relief to have the full staff compliment in our planning and building department.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monitoring Septic Systems

A mandatory septic inspection program would be helpful to our lake protection efforts.  It would also protect ground water, particularly in the parts of the Township on Limestone.  Pollution from septic tanks contaminated many wells in Sydenham and ground water nitrates, possibly from septics, are a concern in Hartington.

Council, through the Corporate Services Committee, has been considering a septic inspection programs. Numerous Townships, including, Tay Valley, Huron-Kinross, North Grenville and Springwater, have already enacted some sort of mandatory inspection.  I am sure there are many more but those were easily found in a google search.

The following text is from a report on the Huron-Kinross program.  It outlines some of the legal considerations when setting up a program.  I have followed that with a proposed amendment to the building code which would make septic pumping mandatory: also, something our township is considering.

From the Huron-Kinross Township report:

“1.1        PROGRAM INITIATION 

The Ontario Building Code Act (1992) and Building Code (Ontario Regulation 350/06) regulate the design, construction and renovation of on-site, private wastewater treatment systems with design capacities of less than 10,000 litres/day. ….

To address surface and groundwater quality and concerns regarding the potential of impacts from septic systems…..It was determined that Section 15 of the Building Code Act, gives building officials and inspectors the authority to enter onto private property for the  purposes of inspecting a building or sewage system to determine whether the building or sewage system is unsafe. Relating specifically to sewage systems, Section 15.9 (3) of the Building Code Act states: “a sewage system is unsafe if it is not maintained or operated in accordance with the Act and the building code”. From these requirements of the Building Code, it was determined a septic system inspection program could be instituted to identify whether systems in the Township are being properly maintained and operated.

…….it was estimated that there were approximately 2,700 septic systems in the municipality and that it would take 8 to 9 years to complete inspections for every system. A program was designed with an approach based on first inspecting systems in high risk areas, as determined by local environmental conditions (e.g. soil types, proximity to surface or groundwater) and the suspected relative age of the systems.

……From the authority given by the Building Code, the Township passed By-law 2007-33 on April 16, 2007, implementing a sewage system re-inspection program (the Huron-Kinross Community Septic (HKCSI) program) across the entire municipality. The by-law states the intent of the program is to “identify and resolve hazards associated with malfunctioning sewage systems” and to raise awareness and provide education regarding proper maintenance and operation of sewage systems. Additionally, the long-term goals of monitoring sewage systems and preventing surface and groundwater contamination are outlined in the bylaw.

Funding for the program is based on a user-pay system. In 2007, the cost of an inspection was estimated at $430 per property with a septic system. To reduce the financial impact to property owners, the cost of the inspection was charged as a flat rate of $55 per year, per property on the tax bill. The fee structure and application of fees, as authorized by Section 391 of the Municipal Act, S.O. 2001, is also included in the implementation by-law.

Failure to participate in the program may result in an Order for an inspection issued against the property. The Township can also place a lien on the property to recover costs associated with issuing an order. Given that sewage systems are considered structure, under Sentence 15.10.1(2) of the Building Code, an order can be made if the inspector is not permitted to conduct the maintenance inspection as denying permission would be considered a contravention of the Act.

The following is a proposed amendment to the building code that would mandate pumping of septic sewage systems:

“ PROPOSED CHANGE TO THE 2012 BUILDING CODE

REG. 332/12 AS AMENDED

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT

The proposed change requires regular pumping out of septic tanks and keeping of the septic tanks and treatment units’ maintenance records.

EXISTING 2012 BUILDING CODE PROVISION(S)

8.9.3. Maintenance

8.9.3.4. Class 4 Sewage Systems

(l) Septic tanks and other treatment units shall be cleaned whenever sludge and scum occupy one-third of the working

capacity of the tank.

PROPOSED CODE CHANGE

8.9.3. Maintenance

8.9.3.4. Class 4 Sewage Systems

(l) Septic tanks and other treatment units shall be cleaned whenever sludge and scum occupy one-third of the working capacity of the tank or every within five years of the last pump out, whichever occurs first. .

(2) The records of septic tanks and treatment units cleaning as required by Sentences ( 1 ) shall be kept by the operator of the sewage system for submission to the chief building official upon request.

RATIONALE FOR CHANGE

Problem/General Background

The proponent requested the change to strengthen the maintenance requirements of septic systems through regular pump outs and to require record keeping thereof to help ensure compliance with the code requirements.

Conventional systems need to be maintained regularly. Current Code requirements do not include regular/periodic pump outs of septic tanks. The proposed requirement will make it mandatory to pump out septic tanks on a periodic basis and to keep the maintenance records of the pump out.

For anyone interested, sending a letter to the provincial political parties supporting this change would help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Devil’s in the Details

“Ice storm Tuesdays” cancelled a couple of meetings contributing to January and February being relatively quiet months on Council.  Yet, working away in the background, a few changes have been made that could have a big effect on the way Council works and the Township develops.

County Takes Subdivision Approval Process

The County has formed a seven-member Planning Advisory Committee with two representatives from South Frontenac.  The County exercised its legal right and will now take over the official public engagement on subdivisions and condominiums in South Frontenac.  The Planning Advisory Committee will hear the public deputations and make the recommendation to approve or reject a subdivision.  South Frontenac Council will become a voluntary commenting agency.

The new planning process is described in the report,  “Future Policy Direction of Planning Matters.” It can be read at: https://frontenac.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/1189?preview=119505

While the County has had final approval of all subdivisions the Township has organized the public meetings, notified the community, prepared draft conditions for approval, debated the subdivision and made a recommendation to approval or deny. The Township’s recommendations were usually followed by County Council.

The County started to become more involved when South Frontenac delayed, questioned and initially rejected a subdivision proposed for the middle of a provincially significant wetland on Johnson’s Point.  The County, in a significant break with tradition, then approved the Hartington subdivision that South Frontenac Council had rejected.

The planning process changes mean that residents of South Frontenac, if they have concerns about a subdivision or condominium, will be making their case to a committee chaired by the Mayor of North Frontenac which has a large majority of members from outside the Township. It is not clear if the County will recognize the Township’s expanded pubic notice requirements.

Overall this process will reduce the level of public influence on major development decisions in South Frontenac.  It will be less democratic.

Last year, Council passed a motion that the Township take over the final approval for subdivisions and condominiums.  This objective was put on hold until we hired a new Planning /Development coordinator.  The hiring has taken longer than expected. It is time to start the process of taking local control of our subdivision approval regardless of the hiring.

The Township also needs to redo its official pan to reflect current community wishes on how the Township should develop.  This process has also been delayed by the hiring process and our committee structure.

Opening up Council Committees

Council has two small committees, a Public Services Committee and a Corporate Services Committee. There is discussion of establishing a third on Development and Planning.

These committees have been fairly low key affairs providing “political” advice on issues being considered by staff before reports come to Council.  In some instances, the Committees operate as a place to send issues that Council does not want to vote against, but does not want to proceed with: sort of a non-controversial kill zone.

While legally public, the times of the meetings and the agendas are often not even known to all Councilors, let alone the public.

The Corporate Services Committee is recommending that committee meeting times and agendas should be posted on the Township website.

Currently only Councilors on the committee are allowed to speak.  The next step may be to open up the Committee meetings further and have a process where other Councilors and the public can have input into committee discussions.

Questionable Road Contract Pricing

Two recent contracts awarded by tender are cause for concern. The contract for double surface treatment has increased 46% from 2011 to 2017 a yearly average 7.7%, The unit price for micro surfacing has increased 25% between 2015 and 2017, or 12.5% a year,

Oil, a key component of these costs, has dropped from $115 per barrel in 2011 to $52 in 2017; and, labour costs have increased on average 1.5% a year between 2011 and 2015.

Seven and twelve percent increases on a major budget expense, 1,009, 682 dollars in 2017, is not sustainable.

Council has asked Public Works to approach other eastern Ontario municipalities to explore the possibly of cooperating in the purchase of these services or in jointly providing them.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment