The new Council has just finished its first month with two meetings and one committee of the whole under its belt. There is so much to learn. But, the discussions were interesting with a healthy variety of opinions and no major disagreements.
Council agreed to hold a second public meeting on the proposed Johnson Point 14 unit condominium development on Loughborough Lake. More importantly, council voted to give six weeks’ notice before the meeting. This is the longest notice ever given before a public meeting and I hope an indication that this Council will support more community input on sub-division and condominium developments. Increased notice is only fair: developer’s proposals have usually been in the works for years and residents need time to review the multiple technical reports and make arraignments to attend the public meetings.
I proposed increased public input into the budget. Unfortunately, this proposal failed to gain support due to the tight budget schedule and uncertainly on how to increase public consultation on the budget. I will raise the issue again early in the 2016-17 budget process. If you have a project you think deserves support in this budget, or an idea on where savings could be made, please contact me.
On a related issue, Council agreed to public input into the Township’s strategic plan. The Plan will be developed in late spring or early summer. It will highlight five priority areas for the Township during the next four years.
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is reviewing the FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) program which has funded many of the solar installations in the township. Council agreed to send a letter to the OPA stating our community’s support for the FIT program. The letter will encourage expansion of the program to allow owners to have more than one FIT installation and to allow other community organizations, such as Conservation Authorities and charities, to receive a bonus for installing solar panels. Council also asked for more information on how municipalities can provide low interest loans to residents for energy conservation measures. These are small but useful steps to making South Frontenac a carbon neutral township.
Major Issues for the New Year
In addition to the budget and the Johnson Point development a few other issues of interest are coming forward:
- Partially Maintained Township Roads
There are at least 45 township-owned roads that receive only partial maintenance, including 14 without snow plowing. A consultant’s report has been prepared which will soon be released. I have proposed that residents on these roads meet to review the report and make suggestions on how the Township could improve service.
- Sydenham Water System
This year a decision will be made on long term contracts to run Sydenham’s water system and there will be a review of the fee schedule. I would like to see this discussion take place in the context of a broader plan for Sydenham’s improvement. The town’s development over the next decade and the future of the water plant are closely linked.
- New Initiatives
I hope that there will be at least one proposal for a solar farm over the next year. We will need a community plan to facilitate and control these developments. I would also expect one of the many possible subdivisions in the various hamlets to become a concrete proposal. There is a growing interest in an expanded bike and hiking trail system that could help the local economy and improve the health of the community. And, there is a need in our township for more seniors’ housing and residential facilities for adults with disabilities. Hopefully we can develop a solid proposal to start the multi-year process for increasing such services.
I would like to know your opinion on any of the above issues as well as any other concerns you may have. Please give me a call, 613-532-7846, or send me a return email.
I hope your New Year is happy and healthy. I look forward to seeing you around the township.