One role of Council is to lobby other levels of government for changes that will benefit South Frontenac. The following are a few issues we have commented on recently. Most resolutions were passed unanimously.
“Cap and Trade”
The province’s “Cap and Trade” program is supposed work like this: costs will increase on fossil fuels, gas, oil, and propane, and the income from these increased costs will pay for two billion dollars worth of carbon reduction programs. Over time both the cost of fossil fuels and the amount available for carbon reduction initiatives will go up.
Council proposed to the provincial government that there should be an accounting of how the money is spent in South Frontenac. A rough guess is that we will pay about 3.5 million dollars in extra cap and trade costs so we should see an equivalent amount of money spent here.
Second, council would like a portion of that money allocated to the municipality to be spent on carbon reduction programs that are decided by the local government. A wide range of projects, like, extra insulation in municipal buildings, commuter parking, more LED lighting, heat pumps or electric car charging stations, could be useful in our community.
This is how the federal government’s Gas Tax program works. The federal government collects a gas tax which is allocated to the municipalities for infrastructure repairs. The province or the feds decide on the priority and leave it up to the municipality to decide how that money should be best spent locally.
As part of Council’s ongoing efforts to preserve agricultural land we voted to petition the Ministry of Agriculture to declare farm land in the Hartington area that is listed in the Canadian soil inventory as class one agricultural land, as agricultural rather than rural, it’s currently zoning.
During the process of amalgamation this block on land was switched from prime agricultural to rural. With increased pressure for residential development it is important to return this land to its proper designation which would encourage agriculture and discourage housing subdivisions.
The Council supported the national campaign for a basic income guarantee. The resolution was brought to Council by a local group working on poverty reduction. Many people in South Frontenac are facing economic hardships as witnessed by the numbers accessing the food bank and other South Frontenac Community Services.One of the financial pressures on all families, more so in rural communities, is the rapidly rising cost of hydro.
Among other benefits, a basic income guarantee will help provide working-age Canadians, who overall have little security in the event of job loss, disability, divorce, prolonged illness and treatment, maternity, economic recession and other life events, a guaranteed income. More information can be found at: http://www.basicincomecanada.org/about_basic_income.
Don’t Privatize Ontario Hydro
The cost of hydro has been a significant concern in rural Ontario. While the causes are complex, and sometimes contentious, there is general agreement on Council that selling off Hydro One would only make the problems worse.
Hydro is a valuable public asset providing an essential service. It should be controlled by the public and work for the public interest and not for private profit.
Benefits from Large Renewable Energy Projects
There were many difficulties with the large renewable energy program. One of them was no assurance that if the province approves a large renewable energy project in a municipality that the Township will not get any benefit from the development.
Council passed a motion, which was supported by dozens of other municipalities, that any renewable project, whether it had local Council support or not, would have to pay the Township.
This is important because there are no extra taxes from these developments. Essentially, the benefit agreements become a way for renewable energy projects, like any other land user, to pay a share of the municipality’s costs.
Budget Input Time
The 2017 draft budget for 28 million dollars is available for public comment. To review a copy of the proposed budget go to item 11(c) of the November 1 Council agenda: https://southfrontenac.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/20714?preview=28492
We are anticipating some shortfall in funding for this year due to the lower than usual MPAC assessments. We need to know what your priorities are. Should we cut or defer some programs or raise taxes? Your comments can be submitted in writing, or come to the November 8 Committee of the Whole meeting and tell us what you think.
I would like to hear what you have to say.
Please let me know your opinion on any of the above issues as well as any other concerns you may have.