Communal Problems: Moths, Climate and Drinking Water

Communal Services Proposal

Frontenac County consultants have made a proposal on how to increase collective, or communal, water and sewage services within the County.  It was item 5.a on the May 4 Township Council agenda. While no binding motions were taken Councilors did express general support for setting up a municipally owned corporation to run community water and sewage services in the County.

The current proposal focuses on communal services for new subdivisions with the systems run by a municipal corporation controlled by the Townships. Sydenham’s water system is currently the only community service in the County.  It is controlled by South Frontenac Council and operated by Utilities Kingston.

Communal systems could help alleviate water shortages, protect ground water, reduce risk of drinking water contamination and increase development density above one house per 2.5 acres.

The consultants identified as one of the possible benefits “the separation of politics from service provision”. There was a good discussion on Council about the importance of communities maintaining control over what kind of services go where and how they are structured and financed. While separating politics from the day-to-day operations is generally a good idea, a utilities corporation should not be a way to shield sometimes controversial community decisions from democratic control.

The consultants also noted that his model could allow for profit. It was not clear why they thought this might be beneficial.  Allowing the utilities corporation to make a profit would only increase the cost to users of the system and transfer money to some other purpose in the Township. One of the benefits of collective community systems should be to decrease cost and increase quality for the users which means it needs to be non-profit.  The consultants said that the profit status of the utility corporation would be a political decision made by the Townships.

The Fire Hall Climate Fight

The next step in South Frontenac’s program to replace our aging fire halls is a new 2.2-million-dollar station on Battersea Road.

The initial design was generally accepted by Council. The discussion focused on what was left out: any significant initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In our worsening climate crisis, every major infrastructure project should be built to reduce carbon emissions.

Two specific proposals were introduced. First, that an air source heat pump be the primary source of heating and cooling.  Council agreed to have staff report back by June 15 on the up-front capital costs, the long-term operating costs, and a heat pump’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

The second proposal was for solar power to be placed on the site as part of Hydro One’s net metering program.  That program uses the solar produced onsite to offset the site’s hydro bills.  There is about a thirty-thousand-dollar upfront cost with an average pay back to cover those costs of 8 to 10 years. The unit should continue to produce income for 25 years.

Council supported a report back on the feasibility of installing a solar power plant with Councillor Roberts and Mayor Vandewal voting against.

Gypsy Moth Fight Back

There have been numerous inquiries about whether South Frontenac will be spraying the gypsy moth caterpillars.

There is no doubt the Gypsy moths are a problem.  Last year we couldn’t clean the caterpillar poop and leaf droppings off our deck fast enough to sit out for about three weeks.  After that the leaves did grow back. A few townships have decided to spray small areas of their townships, mostly when they have relatively large tracts of municipal forests, like over 100 acres.

South Frontenac Township owns no major forest tracks.  Frontenac Provincial Park, nonprofit conservation areas and private woodlots have large tracts of forest in the Township and I don’t believe any are spraying. The rest of the Township is privately owned and it is very hard to spray over private property without getting all land owners on board and there’s a significant disagreement on whether spraying is desired.

Property owners can use a number of techniques to catch and kill caterpillars, pheromone traps can be used to catch the moths and the egg masses are easy to identify and remove.  These actions make a difference until the infestation naturally dies down. One resident provided a link to the Hamilton website which provides pretty good information on the gypsy moth outbreak and what can be done about it.

About Ross Sutherland

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