The budget keeps the tax increase at a stable, affordable level (2%) and maintains a healthy reserve. It reflects the increased cost of drainage and winter maintenance due to the impacts of climate change. This budget could be described as our first climate change budget.
As well as generally maintaining service levels the budget also makes a positive step towards a skateboard park, an off-leash dog park, and expanding township employment.
The budget debate supported a fund to help lake associations undertake Recreational Lake studies, an important tool for long-term lake health and controlled development: though no monies were allocated at this time.
This budget missed an opportunity to increase support for vibrant communities both through more grant money for community initiatives and for legal costs to defend our planning principles and bylaws. Another missed opportunity was a decrease, rather than increase, in resources to control invasive species.
The ugly is more about the process for getting an item in the budget than what is in the budget..
Last summer Public Services suggested a halt to resurfacing gravel roads for five years due to the cost of Road 38 repairs. After some discussion Council requested a list of gravel roads and their priority for hard topping. Instead, the Public Services Committee recommended hard-topping Carrying Place Road and Deyo’s/Bunker Hill Roads.
Despite repeated requests, there was no rational presented to support this recommendation. Traffic counts were submitted late in the budget process which supported hard topping Massassagua Road and Burridge Road South. Carrying Place and Deyo’s/ Bunkers Hill Roads have the third and fourth highest traffic counts.
Early in the process Councillor Sleeth had argued that Carrying Place Road would have significantly increased traffic due to a new approved subdivision. This makes sense but it has still not been provided as a formal rational.
Deyo’s/Bunker Hill Roads do not have the same defence. If the idea is to create another main north south route in the middle of the Township – hard topping will do that – it is not clear that it is a good idea. It certainly is not one that has been debated and decided. In 2018, a master traffic plan will be done that should provide an answer to questions like that. To hard top this lower priority road before we have that advice and made a decision on its recommendations seems premature.
There is another alternative that may work better for more people. Rather than targeting two roads for the full treatment, Council could increase ditching, drainage, quality of gravel and grading on the many gravel roads that become virtually undrivable after heavy rains, which are happening more often.
This key recommendation on roads looks a bit like the backroom politics of old days, rather than the open and accountable government that our strategic plan says we should be working towards and that residents want. What ever policies we support, including in the budget, need to be adequately rationalized to Council and the public and decided through open, informed debate.
New Procedural Bylaw
Council has a new procedural bylaw that comes into effect January 1, 2017. It reduces the number of meetings, puts more work onto subcommittees and will likely limit notice to the public and media for some issues coming before Council. For more comments on the new bylaw click this link.
The Township has a fairly unique opportunity to acquire upwards of a million dollars to build new seniors housing units in the Township. Council has agreed to work with Kingston Frontenac Housing Corporation to explore organizational options and locations for 12 units of seniors housing. The timeline for presenting a concrete proposal for funding is relatively short.
Anyone with suggestions for a possible location in the Hamlets of Sydenham, Inverary or Verona is asked to Contact Wayne Orr, the Township CAO at the Township offices as soon as possible.
Private Lane Upgrades
In 2017, the Township spent $83,045 dollars helping upgrade private lanes. The program will continue next year. If you are on a private lane and considering an upgrade, please contact Public Works for some advice and possible funding support.