Community Basics: Septics, Budgets and Festivals

Septic Inspection

A septic system inspection program is back on the agenda. The Corporate Services Committee heard verbal briefings from the Public Health Unit and the Chief Building Inspector on options. The public health unit was skeptical of the value and affordability of a Township-wide mandatory inspection program. They also questioned the legality of just inspecting septic systems on Lakes.
A program in Tay Valley Township allows a lake association to request a mandatory inspection program, run by the Township, for its lake. Central Frontenac Township has a committee developing a program that could lead to mandatory pumping of septic systems every five years. While the details are still being finalized, the pumping company would be responsible for completing a short form on the condition of the septic and those records would be monitored by the Township. Similar programs exist in Quebec.
Township staff have been asked to come back with a report on the next steps. One proposal is to create a community committee to look at the options and hold a public meeting to discuss programs like the ones in Tay Valley and Central Frontenac.

Budget Update

Council passed a 28 million dollar budget for 2017 with a 2% tax increase: possibly the lowest increase of all area municipalities. It is a fair budget and continues to improve services. It passed in a 4-3 vote. I, Councillors Revill and McDougall, and Mayor Vandewal voted in favour.
Councillors Barr and Sleeth wished to maintain the solid waste charge which would likely have both further increased taxes and provided fewer services. There was some concern that rolling the solid waste charge into general revenues meant Council wanted to end the bag tag system. There is strong community support for waste diversion and it is important to the future of our landfills and the health of the Township. No proposals have there been discussed to weaken the system and you will be getting your bag tags at the end of February.
Mark Segsworth, our Pubic Works Manager, sits on the provincial body establishing guidelines for the Waste Free Ontario Act and he will update Council on the Act in February. I hope this legislation will produce some significant improvements in waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
There is nothing special about a 0%, 2% or 4 % budget increase. It is important to have sufficient income to provide the services the community needs balanced against the ability of people to pay. The political nature of these financial decisions is one reason Council agreed to a more open budget process. I would encourage everyone to have their say next year. It will make a difference to the decision that Council makes.

Democracy Deficit?

Two facts this month point to some problems with our local democracy. First, we now have a Council where only 4 of the nine members were elected. Second, our largest District, Loughborough, has 34% more voters than our smallest, Bedford. This gap is likely to get bigger leading to a further lack of equal representation across the Township.
These facts are a starting point for a community discussion on how to improve the representativeness and accountability of our Council.

Up coming events

The Third Annual Perth Road Winter Olympics will be held at the Harris Hall Park, in Perth Road, on Saturday, February 11 from noon till 2:30. Come out and enjoy some outdoor family run and good chili. Everyone is welcome.
The Lakes and Trails Festival is planned for July 15 from 10-3 pm at the Point Park in Sydenham. The event is being organized by South Frontenac Rides, the Sydenham Canoe Club and a group of Sydenham residents. The festival will include a bike around Sydenham Lake, a historical-scavenger-hunt walk around Sydenham, a dragon boat, a paddling scavenger-hunt on the Lake and a community BBQ: more details to follow. It is hoped that the festival will become an annual event that brings the community together.
South Frontenac’s Canada 150 celebration will be held on August 26, in Centennial Park. Once again, more details to follow.

About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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