Planning, Cost Over-Runs and Offices

Long Time Planner Retires

Lindsay Mills the Township planner for the last 15 years, has retired. Council has retained a recruitment service, “head-hunters”, to find a new planner and Director of Development. If you have planning questions or applications you still take them to the Township Office in Sydenham and, when needed, planning services will be contracted from Frontenac County.

The Old Scofield Camp

An emerging planning issue is development at the old Knights of Columbus camp, the Scofield Camp, at the south end Buck Lake’s South Arm.

Last year a locally owned company purchased the camp and proposed a 16 seasonal-cabin / three family-cottage development. The owner was told by the Planning Department that this proposal was incompatible with the zoning and could not proceed.

The site is zoned Community Facility, a very restrictive zoning which essentially allows non-profit community projects.

This spring some roads were constructed on the site. Subsequently, Township representatives have talked with the owner and reiterated the kind of uses that are permitted. The Conservation Authority has also been asked ensure that the work being done does not require permitting due to its proximity to a highly sensitive lake trout lake.

At this point the expectation is that the owner will work within the limits of the existing bylaws and planning process. If you have concerns please pass them along.

Johnson’s Point

Council recently approved the Condominium agreement for the Johnson’s Point development which, once the developer signs it, sets out the conditions for development and allows the Township to monitor the development. As of July 3, the developer had not signed the agreement.

A notice of motion has been introduced at Council to reconsider approval of the Condominium Agreement at the August Council meeting. There is no reason to rush into approving the agreement if the developer is not going to sign it.

Construction Cost Overruns.

Two major projects, Bedford Road between the Sydenham Dam and Alton Road, and the Harrowsmith junction project, both with budgets over a million and a half dollars, have had some problems.

The Harrowsmith project is $400,000 over budget. Some of the extra cost is due to unexpected problems, some the result of a Council decision to purchase a contaminated property, demolish the building, and improve sight lines at the corner, and some, almost $150,000, is due to a poor design by AECOM, the contracted engineering company.

No figure is yet available for the Bedford Road project. Again, some of the problems stem from a design from a contracted engineering firm that missed a few points.

The priority is to finish both projects before considering if any action for possible cost recovery. Council has also asked the Public Services Committee to report back on why the Township is getting substandard designs, and what can be done to improve the quality of designs used in the tenders.

Township Administrative Building

The Township will likely need additional administrative space in 5-7 years. The offices are already crowed and projected staff increases will make the situation untenable.

A discussion has started between Frontenac County and the Conservation Authority about cooperating on a new building for both organizations. Township Council was asked if they wanted to join these initial discussions and make it a threesome.

Neither the Township Council nor the public has had a discussion on what would be best for the Township. Some considerations would be accessible to all Township residents, the Township’s image, ease of use by staff, integration with other Township facilities, and cost. Among of the reasons Sydenham has worked well as site for the Township Hall is it proximity to the geographic center of the Township, and the beauty and history of the buildings.

Initial discussions suggest the new buildings would have to be on a major road, in the County, and as close to the 401 as possible. This location would put a new building at the southern end of the Township and probably on either the west or east side.

When talks with other parties focus on the potential savings it is easy to end up with a solution that is driven by possible cost savings rather than what is best for the Township. In a straw vote, 8-1, Council agreed to enter discussions on a joint administrative building with the County and The Conservation Authority.

About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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