Even during a pandemic there is strong and increasing development pressures in South Frontenac.
In the first months of 2021 the construction value of building permits was $5.3 million, 86 permits, significantly higher than the previous high of $2.9 million, 57 permits, in 2018.
Planning department statistics, an indicator of future activity, show inquires up to 2,876 vs 1947 at the same time last year. Pre-consultation meetings increased from 48 to 104.
Coupled with the many anecdotal accounts of houses being sold over-asking price, and of younger working families unable to buy a home, the broader trends that those that are well off, are doing really well, while those in the middle and lower incomes are struggling, are present locally. These trends are changing South Frontenac.
Rising property values bring more money into the community: more taxes; more shopping at local businesses; and more work for contractors and building suppliers. At the same time, it changes the nature of our community from one that is more inclusive of working families and those less well-off to a reserve for people who are relatively wealthy. It also puts increasing pressure on farm land and the environment.
In our changing and increasingly connected world South Frontenac is now close to Ottawa and Toronto as well as Kingston. For decades the development around these cities has favoured large row house developments on farm land and expensive estate-homes. Planning has been relatively unsuccessful at maintaining farm land and mixed income communities.
Our Official Plan review could not come at a more important time. Last month council confirmed a consulting firm to do the leg work on the review. It is now up to us to make our concerns about inclusive communities, farm land and improving the natural environment heard.
Invasive species, frost and heave road damage, flooding, blue-green algae, ticks, increased fires, and the federal budget are increasing pressure on South Frontenac to do something about climate change.
The 2021 Township budget includes one hundred thousand dollars to support a local climate action plan. Here are some ideas to start the discussion on what we can do locally.
We do not need any studies or consultants. There are effective, generally accepted and easy to implement solutions on how to reduce green-house gases that can be done now. It is time to just “get at’er”.
The Township could:
- Over the next ten years electrify the pick-ups and the SUVs in the Township fleet. The first step would be installing charging stations in our work yards.
- Install air-source heat pumps for heating and cooling of all new builds and, where possible, in renovations.
- Install solar panels on Township buildings and properties. Currently there is no solar power production on any Township property. Hydro’s power buy-back program for solar power, could work at many locations and the up-front costs will be offset by the long-range income.
- Bring forward plans to increase backyard composting and work with regional municipalities on industrial compost solutions. As well as reducing methane production a successful program would extend the life of our landfills.
- Monitor and report yearly on the Township’s fossil fuel use: vehicle fuel purchases by gasoline and diesel, and heating fuels by fuel oil, propane and natural gas; and require contractors to submit their fuel consumption on Township projects. Include fuel efficiency as part of all tenders.
- Report on the likely impact on green-house gas emissions of motions coming to Council as we now report on expected costs.
As well as improving the environment, these initiatives will save the Township money. Any extra short-term costs could be covered from reserves and with payments back into reserves from savings or extra earned income. Also, it is likely that over the next few years there will be significant federal, and possibly provincial, money dedicated to these kinds of initiatives, though this is not necessary to proceed.
These are many other ways the Township can reduce carbon emissions, but these are accepted changes that need to made and can be done now. Other opportunities can be addressed as they present themselves.
If you have other ideas on how to reduce greenhouse gases send them along and let’s start the community discussion. Staff is preparing a report to Council on what actions they recommend and your ideas should be part of this discussion.