Community Questions on COVID-19 and Township Responses

Last Week the Township asked community members to submit any questions they have about the Township’s State of Emergency and COVID-19.  The following are answers to a representative selection of the questions from the May 5 Council meeting agenda.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a question.

1.Submitted at Tuesday April 28th 2020 5:23 PM

I am one of the public health resident physicians working at KFLA public health. I live in Inverary. Unfortunately our street does not have access to high speed fibre internet. It’s available in our community and the next street over has access. This makes working from home very difficult. Does council have a plan to encourage WTC to extend the fibre lines by one street and provide better access to the community?

Township Response:

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has released a Broadband Fund to provide funding support for providers wishing to “close the digital divide” in areas of the Country, particularly rural areas, where broadband access is limited. The Township has provided letters of support to companies who are making application to the fund in order to improve broadband access within South Frontenac. https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/internet.htm

The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is a non-profit organization established by the Municipalities of Eastern Ontario which is dedicated to improving rural connectivity, supporting economic growth and enhancing quality of life. You can learn more about EORN’s efforts to expand broadband into rural areas here: https://www.eorn.ca/en/index.aspx 2.

  1. Submitted at Tuesday April 28th 2020 8:07 PM

As times are tough for many and community resources like South Frontenac Community Services will see increases of use such as the food bank, is South Frontenac approving an increase in some funding being provided this year to assist with this very essential service?

Township Response:

Many organizations have experienced challenges associated with the COVID19 pandemic. In response, the Township has deferred payments, waived interest and penalties, and taken other financial measures to ease the impact of the pandemic on all taxpayers including commercial and NFP property owners. This attempts to provide relief across the Township to all those affected. The Township has been a financial supporter of South Frontenac Community Services for many years. In addition to funding which has been earmarked annually for SFCS (one of few organizations which has received a specific budget allocation annually) the Township provided additional financial support in each of the past two years (2019 and 2020) through an arrangement with the Kingston Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery. Natural,

Township also considers applications from various organizations for community grants, a merit-based application process which allocates a set amount of funding for worthwhile community initiatives. Council is not currently considering additional funding for any of these purposes. We are also mindful that there may be significant need for financial support across many other organizations and sectors, and that the Township is unable to provide support to all those in need.

  1. Submitted at Tuesday April 28th 2020 8:07 PM

Due to state of emergency and not wanting to tie up fire departments, there is a burn ban in place. The offer of the brush drop off, and opening dumps are only helpful if you have a vehicle to transport the yard waste. Will we have to wait till the state of emergency is over before the burn ban is lifted? Or, could we have a day where twp truck could pick up yard waste? Twp employees might be able to work this into their schedule this year with them having a disruption to their regular workload. Piles of paper products & yard waste is piling up, attracting rodents, and also a fire liability. Thanks so much for setting up this format & keeping us informed.

Township Response:

While part of the reason for the burn ban is to ensure sufficient fire department capacity for pandemic-related emergency response, cool, windy weather and dryness of brush continue to support enacting a ban. Even with a few days of recent rain, numerous large grass fires have had to be extinguished in the past few weeks. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has also enacted a province-wide fire ban for its entire restricted fire zone which encompasses the entire northern portion of the Township including all of Bedford district and Frontenac Provincial Park. The Township has no discretion over this provincial ban.

Regular seasonal work has not subsided for public works personnel during the pandemic, and for various logistical reasons a separate residential yard waste door to door collection program is not possible at this time. The Township recognizes the challenges posed by the fire ban and will begin to lift its restrictions at the earliest possible opportunity.

  1. Submitted at Wednesday April 29th 2020 6:52 AM

When are you going to lift the total fire ban?

Township Response:

Part of the reason for the burn ban is to ensure sufficient fire department capacity for pandemic-related emergency response; however, cool, windy weather and dry conditions continue to support the need for a ban as well. Even with a few days of recent rain, numerous large grass fires have had to be extinguished in the past few weeks. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has also enacted a province-wide fire ban for its entire restricted fire zone which encompasses the entire northern portion of the Township including all of Bedford district and Frontenac Provincial Park. The Township has no discretion over this provincial ban. The Township recognizes the challenges posed by the fire ban and will begin to lift its own restrictions at the earliest possible opportunity.

  1. Submitted on Wednesday April 29th 2020 10:43 AM

Do you have an idea of when the dog park will be opened up? Dog owners were practicing social distancing before things were closed down. If the boat ramps can be safely opened, surely the dog park can be.

Township Response:

The government of Ontario has enacted Ontario Regulation 104/20 which requires that all outdoor recreation amenities including dog parks be closed to the public at least until May 6, 2020 – unless that date is extended (again) by the Province. As such, the Township has no discretion in reopening the dog park at this time. O.Reg 104/20 can be found here for your reference: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200104

Boat Launches are not included in this order, and have been interpreted to fall under a separate essential services order which generally permits transportation-related infrastructure or infrastructure that is used to access individuals’ residences to remain in operation. Notwithstanding, some other municipalities have elected to close their boat launches to the public.

  1. Submitted at Wednesday April 29th 2020 5:16 PM

Hi I am curious why staff have decided to cancel committee of adjustment meetings? Why aren’t we joining other municipalities and holding virtual meetings to ensure we can ensure things are still progressing. If we hold off then there will be considerable back log.

Township Response:

The Township elected to postpone only its April and May Committee of Adjustment meetings, as did many other municipalities, while we waited for guidance from the Province on acceptable ways of satisfying the public participation requirements of statutory public meetings so that decisions of the Committee could be deemed procedurally lawful. Also, earlier Provincial directives suggested that appeal periods for any Committee of Adjustment decisions would not begin until the Provincial State of Emergency was lifted, which would prevent any decisions from taking effect. The Township has since determined how it can comply with the public participation requirements of the Planning Act through electronic/virtual means and the Province has clarified that appeal periods can begin and conclude in the typical manner during the state of emergency. For these reasons, we are preparing to reconvene Committee of Adjustment in late May or Early June. Notice of these meetings will be posted through the Township website and other usual avenues.

  1. Seen submitted at Thursday April 30th 2020 6:43 AM

Will council spell out a policy on short-term cottage rentals? And explain a system for complaint/enforcement.

Township Response:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Ontario enacted an essential workplaces order (O. Reg 82/20 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act which requires that short-term rental properties are only permitted to operate if they are providing longer-term residential accommodations. Typical short-term, transient/vacation-type accommodations are prohibited at this time. That order can be found here under schedule 3 s. 3.(1).

If you feel that a property is in contravention of this or any other Provincial emergency orders you can report it locally to Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health (KFL&APH) using the form on the following KFL&APH webpage: https://www.kflaph.ca/en/healthy-living/covid-19-enforcement.aspx Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Township of South Frontenac is in the process of reviewing and updating its Official Plan which governs land use planning within the Township. Regulations for Short-term rentals typically begin with policies within an Official Plan followed by zoning by-law regulations and/or licensing requirements. Any policies or eventual regulations related to short-term rentals will be informed by public input, research, data collection and Council’s direction.

 

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
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