November 2017 Report

Climate Change and Lake Health

One of the emerging lake quality puzzles is that phosphate levels in lakes have decreased and stabilized, yet algae blooms, in particular blue-green algae (the poisonous one), have increased. This conundrum was recently addressed by Neil Hutchinson, who literally wrote the recommendations that many municipalities use to support their lake health policies.

According to Hutchinson government regulations reducing phosphate, for instance in soap; changes in forestry and farming practices; municipal regulations protecting shorelines; and, better sewage disposal, including septic’s, have decreased water phosphate levels since the 1950’s. Despite these gains the last couple of decades have seen an increase in algae blooms and, more troubling, an increase in the amount of blue-green algae. Why?

Hutchinson suggests that rising lake water temperatures is a major contributor. Algae thrives in these conditions. He also outlined the mechanisms that favour the development of blue-green algae in warmer water. To see his slide show, follow the link.

Locally, reports of green algae on Dog Lake and Big Rideau Lake support Hutchinson’s observations, certainly the decrease in ice cover and quality of ice has been well noted.

Climate change has affected our community with the increase in the number of invasive species, the damage to roads from one-in-a- hundred-year rain storms that are occurring a couple of times a year and droughts that are increasing fire hazards. It might also be wise to see climate change as a threat to lake health.

Council Reorganization

Council is proposing changes in the way it works. The main changes would decrease Committee of the Whole meetings to once a month and increase the power of the smaller sub-committees: planning, corporate services, recreation and public services. The impact of these changes is hard to predict but they will affect the way Township policies are made.

Smaller committees can give more detailed consideration to issues. Also, Committee of the Whole and Council meetings are usually relatively short. Reducing the number of these meetings would free up staff time and save money.

On the other hand, allowing these smaller committee to develop proposals without public input, or input from all Councillors could shift some power from the public and Council to staff and subcommittees of Council. This difficulty could largely be eliminated if the sub-committees reported to a Committee of the Whole meeting before motions go to Council. The drafting of the bylaws on outdoor wood burning furnaces and lane assumption benefited from the interaction between the sub-committees and the Committee of the Whole.

When items are fully discussed at the committee level, with input from all Councillors and the public, the final motions will be more complete, any disagreements will be clearer, amendments will be more precise and discussion more focused. Two Committee of the Whole meetings and only one Council meeting a Month would facilitate this discussion and community engagement.

Some Councillors are opposed to reducing the number of Council meetings because they fear it will “hold up development”. The road to many of bad development decisions is paved with “don’t hold up development” concerns. Responsible development takes time and open consideration.

Public comment on changes to the Procedural Bylaw will be heard on November 28. Come out to the public meeting and make your voice heard on how the Township works. A more complete summary of the proposed changes can be found at this link.

Public Budget Input on November 14

The draft budget for 2018 will be available on-line November 3 and the November 14 Committee of the Whole will hear public delegations on any aspect of the budget. If you think something is missing, or does not need to be there, come and be heard.

Seniors Housing

There is a need for good quality, affordable seniors housing in the Township. There are often wait lists for the seniors housing we already have.

The Township has an opportunity to access 1.3 million dollars from the County and the province through the city of Kingston. South Frontenac would need to come up with an additional equivalent of $600, 000 to build 12 more units of non-profit seniors housing.

Using $600, 000 of local resources to gain a 3 million dollar needed project seems like a good use of public resources. To firm up the 1.3 million dollars Council needs to express an interest in proceeding by December. The issue will be coming back to Council in November.

About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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