February was a good month for winter activities in South Frontenac. While the pike were less than cooperative the ice fishers were abundant. Snow conditions were perfect for skiing and snowmobiling. A group of residents organized the first annual Perth Road Winter Olympics – a wonderful afternoon of snowshoeing, fat biking, snow ball fights and biathlon competitions. And there was excellent chili.
Your council has also been active. We approved a 28 million dollar budget for 2015-16. This was the first municipal budget for half the Councillors and it went relatively smoothly. Most expenses seem to be grounded in a reasonable long term plan. Two exceptions were the Perth Road Fire hall expense and the hog weed control plans.
Money was approved for a new Perth Road Fire Hall, South Frontenac’s first fire hall built as a fire hall. The problem is that there is no overall plan for what fire services South Frontenac is likely to need in fourty years and how the new Perth Road Station fits into those plans. After some discussions we agreed to have a conceptual long term plan for fire services before we finalize the halls design and identify the property – there are many advantages to keeping it Perth Road village. The goal is to have the shovel in the ground this year.
The better part of $50,000 is tagged for expanded road side mowing and herbicide spraying to control Giant Hog Weed (Cow Parsnip). Rather than just responding reflexively to an emerging problem, I will be bringing forward a motion to develop a long term plan to most effectively use Township resources to protect people and the environment.
Other budget items include:
- $10,000 for small grants to community groups. I tried to increase the amount available to $30,000 but most Councillors felt there was not enough interest in the program to justify more money. I would encourage everyone involved with the community to check out the program (http://www.southfrontenac.net/en/town-hall/Community-Project-Grant.asp) and apply if you have a project that could benefit from Township funding.
- I have also made a proposal to increase community input into next year’s budget through a public meeting before it’s approved.
- Funds were allocated to replace the Otter Lake culvert on Salmon Lake road, micro-surface parts of Perth Road to reduce skidding, and finish the retaining walls at the corner of Stage Coach and Rutledge roads.
- There is enough money in the budget if that Council decides, after public consultation, to snow plow the partially maintained Township roads then it can start next winter
- We also added $40,000 dollars to the grant program to improve private roads for emergency access
South Frontenac Rides
Eighteen hardy folks braved a cold February night to start the South Frontenac Rides program, an initiative dedicated to improving and promoting bicycling in South Frontenac. The group is planning a bike festival in June to highlight biking in our community. The next meeting is March 9, 7 pm in the Township Council Chambers. It is open to everyone.
The Strategic Plan
In your interim tax bill you will get receive a notice asking for input into the Township’s Strategic Plan for the next four years. I would encourage you to send in your comments or come to one of the public meeting to make your views known. Loughborough’s meeting is Thursday, March 26 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers, 4432 George St, Sydenham. The Strategic Plan will identify the Township’s priorities for the next four years.
Johnson Point Development
The public meeting on the Johnson Point condominium development on Loughborough Lake will be in the Council Chambers starting at 6 pm on March 3. This will be the last chance for public input before Council considers the development. I continue to have concerns about the impact of the development on the adjacent provincially significant wetland and the overall health of Loughborough Lake.
The extra time taken to consider the Johnson Point Project has identified some interesting questions that were missed in earlier reports. If nothing else, this process has shown the benefits of extending public notice for these complex developments to achieve the best development possible.
The Official Plan
Central to what municipal governments do, is the arcane, but crucial process of planning. We are re-entering the debate with the province on our new official plan. Now is the time for your comments on building setbacks from water bodies, density of housing, infilling hamlets, alternative potable water sources, condominiumizing of private roads, and many other issues central to the Township.
As always, I look forward to your comments on these and other important issues.