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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South Frontenac 2019 Landfill Presentation

Cambium – Annual Update on Waste Disposal Sites

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Frontenac County Regional Road Network Presentation

Presentation on Regional Roads Network (1)

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Frontenac County Waste Management Review

Frontenac Waste Management Review

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Decomposing Organics and Planning

Organic Waste Disposal

South Frontenac’s waste and recycling contracts are up for renewal in 2020. One of the issues is what should be done with organic waste.

Organics waste, as any other waste, fills up our landfills, but it also has two added negative consequences. Decomposing organic waste is the major source of leachate, liquids, which can potentially carry whatever toxins are in the dump into the surrounding watershed.

The second harm done by organics is, when they decompose, they produce methane, a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. About 12 years ago the Township’s Sustainability Committee found that organic waste in landfills was likely the largest source of greenhouse gasses produced in South Frontenac.

North Grenville, a largely rural township south of Ottawa, says that in 2017 56% of their waste by weight was from organics. Any figure in South Frontenac approaching this number would make organics one of our most pressing waste disposal issues.

At the Public Services Committee staff recently recommended more consistent public education and support for backyard composting rather banning organics from dumps. This approach has been used for over a decade and many residents still organics out with the garabage. Continuing to put organics in our landfills risks increased water pollution, increased greenhouse gases and shorter landfill life.

There would be an added cost to an organic pick up and industrial composting, though Kingston does it. There will also be a significant added cost to incineration, one of the long-term waste disposal options being considered.

The province has also released a new discussion paper on waste and litter. It asks the questions: Do you think the province should ban food waste? [that would be no organic waste in landfills] If so, how do you think a ban would be best developed and implemented? Comments on the province’s proposed approach to organic and other waste disposal issues can be made on the province’s website before April 21.

Provincial Planning Uncertainty

The provincial policy framework that underlies South Frontenac’s planning decisions is currently a bit shaky.

The provincial government is trying to open the province to development. One initiative that received significant attention was the attempt to allow development in the Greenbelt around Toronto. Local opposition forced the Province to remove this piece of legislation.

South Frontenac’s Development Services Committee has passed a motion that the current approval and regulatory process does not adequately protect our lakes and wetlands and calls on the province to strengthen these rules. If this motion is passed by council it will be forward to the government.

The latest provincial salvo is a review of development charges, which may lead to their elimination. Development charges are paid by developers to help offset the costs incurred by increased growth. For instance, they could help pay for a new fire hall, an extra lane on a road, a new ambulance station or an upgraded water system.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says, “growth should pay for itself”. If these charges were eliminated or curtailed, the costs of growth will need to be paid by current residents, making development expensive for existing property tax payers. Peel Region has recently raised concerns about the possible effect that discontinuing development charges would have on water bills.

The direction of the provincial proposals is to decrease community control over development and to make it faster and cheaper for developers.

There is very little public input into these discussions. The government is taking written comments and consulting key stakeholders on a very short timeline. It is possible that Townships will just be told that these are the new rules that limit your control of development and increase your costs.

It is helpful to write the provincial government and express your support for more local control over development, that regulations need to protect the environment and communities, and that developers should pay their share. I am presenting a motion to Council on April 2 asking for Councils support of these positions.

A Loose Water End

Council has released the details of the second legal case  involving the Sydenham Water treatment plant. It concerned small leaks in the pipes and was settled with a payment to the Township and a confidentiality agreement.

 

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Water Treatment Plant Leaks

Eight years ago, pin point leaks started in some of Sydenham water treatment plant’s pipes. During that time Council dealt with matter in closed meetings. An investigation by the Integrity Commission found that the public should have been notified that litigation was ongoing and given some more information on why. The attached report is Council’s explanation on the litigation about leaks in the water plant: Sydenham Water Plant

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Province Asking for Input on Waste Reduction

The Ontario Ministry of  Environment, Conservation and Parks has issued a discussion paper on waster and litter in Ontario.  They are taking comments until April 20.  It considers a wide variety of issues including,  litter in parks, producer responsibility, organic waste, plastic waste, recovery of materials and sustainable end markets.

Follow this link for the discussion paper: Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities Discussion Paper_0.

Comments can be made electronically before April 20th on the Ministry website.

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