by Deron Johnston
The Committee of the Whole meeting that took place on Monday January 21, had robust discussions, an extensive public meeting, and a presentation from the Rideau Valley Conservation Association (RVCA) on drinking water source protection, as well as a number of other agenda items. Mayor Peckford noted that Councillor Craig McCormick was absent due to urgent family matters (more on that matter elsewhere in this edition).
The public meeting dealt with a zoning by-law amendment application, ZBA 18-18 (Beach Road). The owners of an unaddressed vacant property had requested that the zoning of the property be changed to allow new commercial uses to be added to the existing activities on the property. Currently, according to North Grenville’s Official Plan, any new structures must be built 300 metres from a licenced pit. This is to allow for the possible expansion or continued use of this type of resource extraction. The application asked to have this distance shortened.
Yann Bossel, the owner of the licenced pit, and a dairy farmer, spoke against the application because of his concerns about how these activities could affect the future use of his property. It was a thorough discussion, which involved several municipal staff, including North Grenville Planner Jordan Jackson, who presented the Planning Department’s recommendation to approve the application. The meeting lasted a full hour before the vote took place, which resulted in three votes for and one against. The recommendation to approve the application will need to be voted on again at the next Council Meeting.
One item that emerged at the meeting came from an impromptu discussion during the section of the meeting assigned to Parks Recreation and Culture, about the potential for a sledding hill in North Grenville, brought forward by Mayor Peckford. She noted that a sledding hill was discussed during the campaign and it remains a matter of significant interest in the community. She added that it is an item that Municipal Council is interested in pursuing. There was one site considered by the previous Council, which was the former Kemptville landfill site. At the time, it appeared that the primary reason for the site not to be considered was municipal liability. Based on the level of discussion at the meeting and the number of questions from the Mayor, this looks to be an item sure to be discussed again in the near future.
Another important part of the meeting revolved around the municipal budget consultation process. The first public consultation on the budget was proposed for Monday, February 4, which would include presentations from the Treasurer and CAO about the fundamentals of a municipal budget and how residents and organizations can go about making budget requests to Council. It was decided that this meeting be held at 2 pm at the North Grenville Municipal Centre.
On Thursday, February 7, there will be another public budget consultation, with Maplewood Hall in Oxford Mills being a possible location. It was suggested that this meeting be held at 7 pm to allow those who work outside North Grenville enough time to return home, have dinner, and then go to the meeting.
Wednesday, February 13, will be the opportunity for residents and organizations to make requests to Council to have items considered for the budget. On Wednesday, February 20, there will be a meeting where Council can provide direction to municipal staff about the budget. The operating budget will be presented at a meeting on Wednesday, February 27, and the capital budget will be presented a week later on Wednesday, March 6.
These budgets will be based on both public input and Council direction. The final review of the budget will take place at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, March 12, with the final vote on budget approval potentially taking place at the Council Meeting of Tuesday, March 19. The public is encouraged to speak with the Council member who is the liaison for the department to which they’ll be making their budget request. The idea, which was implemented for last year’s budget, is to have the relevant Council liaison be a champion for these budget requests, and be able to speak in support of them.
The CAO advised Council that the first installment of the cannabis funding from the provincial government had been received ahead of the January 22 deadline, and amounted to $8,832. This was based on the number of households (6,927) in North Grenville according to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. The CAO added that, because North Grenville opted in to allow retail cannabis stores, we can expect that the second installment will be the same amount. This is more than the minimum of $5,000 that was promised to all municipalities by the provincial government.
Mayor Peckford outlined a special meeting that she was able to arrange with the cooperation of Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister and local MPP Steve Clark, involving a policy advisor in the Provincial Infrastructure Minister, Monte McNaughton’s, office. The meeting was in preparation for the upcoming Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference where municipalities get to sit down with ministers to discuss their funding priorities and where members of Council will have opportunities for learning and networking. The meeting focused on exploring the landscape for potential funding for the expansion of County Road 43, which is a clear priority of the mayor. Mayor Peckford, County Warden Sayeau, and key municipal staff will have an exclusive meeting with Minister McNaughton specifically to discuss County Road 43 funding at the conference.