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Money Drives Council Decisions
  by Francie Dennison  
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Lee Dufty, President, Union Sports Club

Money was certainly the focus of consideration at the Central Elgin Council meeting of June 23, 2014, whether it was a delegation focusing on the cost of healthy eating, the grants program or user fees, or a debate about the type of vehicles in the municipality's fleet.

Delegations

1. Elgin St. Thomas Public Health: Joy Dawkins and Courtney-Brook Laurie, Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, were in attendance to discuss "Nutritious Food Basket".

This was a strong presentation demonstrating how an individual's health is directly linked to their social-economic status within their community and the community's economic strength. They said that to just keep putting money into treating illnesses, with health care costs rising 5% every year, is not sustainable; we must start addressing the social and economic issues that lead to poor health - in short, work as a community to create a healthier society that has less need of health care services.

The Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) is a survey tool used to monitor the affordability and accessibility of food by relating the cost of healthy eating to individual and family incomes. The 2013 NFB report reveals the cost to feed a family of four in Elgin St. Thomas is $739.80 per month. These results continue to suggest that some families and individuals do not have adequate funds to afford healthy food after paying for other basic living expenses. 2013 NFB Report

2. Union Sports Club: Lee Dufty, President, Union Sports Club, was in attendance, along with many members of the club, to discuss partnership between the St. Thomas Golf Course and Union Tennis Courts and funding to the Union Sport Club.

"We are fully supportive of that endeavour and partnership [St. Thomas Golf Course and Union Tennis Courts]," Lee began, but noted if the Union Sports Club had been invited to the talks from the beginning, there was probably a better use for the money being provided by the St. Thomas Golf Course than putting up a windscreen at the courts. She also noted the community had been instrumental in fund raising to get the tennis courts built in the first place. She was requesting for the Union Sports Club to be involved in deciding how the money was to be spent before the St. Thomas Golf Course went ahead and put up windscreens at the courts.

"The Union Sports Club wants to change the way our grant is allocated," Lee continued, delving right into the next topic on her agenda. Noting how much they do appreciate the grant they get from Central Elgin she said they "want the grant not solely for programming, but also to be used for operating expenses like utilities and capital costs."

There was supposed to be a meeting happen between municipal staff and the Union Sports Club after the public Parks & Recreation Master Plan meeting in Port Stanley regarding the best use of the money from the St. Thomas Golf Club. Mayor Walters apologized because that meeting hasn't happened yet but assured Lee that it would happen soon. He then said council had to look at their entire grants process during the 2014 Budget deliberation as it has been brought to their attention that it is also a human rights issue.

Councillor Martyn expressed her on-going concern that the municipality decided to tax the Union Sports Club as soon as they acquired the building and she would like to have that decision revisited.

Don Leitch said the decision to tax was MPAC's and once MPAC had assessed them, council could only provide a grant equivalent to the tax but did not have the authority to decide whether or not to tax them.

Lee Dufty said MPAC told her the decision as to whether or not to tax the property was the municipality's, not MPAC's; and went on to thank Sally Martyn for her contribution every year to pay the taxes.

Director of Financial Services Karen DePrest said once the ownership of the building changed hands, under the Assessment Act it was no longer exempt as an educational property.

The Union Sports Club acquired the building they use from the Thames Valley District School Board for a dollar, but once it was no longer an educational facility, it was also no longer exempt from property taxes. Councillor Sally Martyn has been donating the money from her councillor's remuneration each year to pay the property taxes since the Union Sports Club acquired the building (currently that amounts to $1,500 per year).

3. Belmont Lions Club: Bruce Campbell, President, Belmont Lions Club, will be in attendance to discuss fee structure for tent permits.
Although Deputy Mayor David Marr is a member of the Port Stanley Lions Club and both clubs are part of the same Lions District, Marr did not declare a conflict of interest in this item, participating in the discussion and seconding the motion on it.

Campbell said the Lions rent out their tents several times a year but do not always charge money for their use (community non-profit groups or churches). If they put up their 60 x 40 tent, or two or more of their 20 x 30 tents, the total square footage is over 644 square feet and now there is a new requirement for a Building Permit at a cost of $120. The Lions Club was object to this fee and the need for a building permit. With the events scheduled for this year, the Lions Club will be required to pay about $1,500 in building permit fees for them to donate the use of their tents to non-profit community groups and churches.

The fees and need to inspect tent structures arose out of safety concerns after someone died in a tent fire recently.

Councillor McFarlan [it is unknown by this writer whether or not he is a member of the Belmont Lions Club or any other Lions Club within their district] said he thinks these groups are not being charged the proper fee but agreed staff still needs to ensure the tents are safe and in the right locations. At the same time, McFarlan stated this was a bigger issue and did not involve just concessions for the Belmont Lions Club but for anyone who wants to use a tent.

Councillor Martyn said that if they were lending the tents for free, then the fee should be waived.

"There are two issues here," McFarlan jumped in again. "One, if there's going to be a fee, what is it? And two, is it going to be a fund raising or charitable event?"

Mayor Walters wanted to defer consideration of this until after council had a chance to talk with Leon Bach, the Building Inspector. Deputy Mayor Marr said that with July 1st coming up, he was "wondering about the timing if we're going to have another issue. We do have a meeting July 3rd."

"This is a larger issue than just the Belmont Lions Club and we need to look at it with our staff," stated Councillor McNeil. Mayor Walters agreed and said he wanted a discussion with the User Fee Committee.

Campbell wanted to know how this building permit fee would apply to situations like when the scouts or guides come to town and set up a camp with hundreds of tents for the kids that would definitely total more than 644 square feet. Mayor Walters said they hadn't thought of that scenario.

"In the interim," Councillor McFarlan said, "I make a motion to waive fees until we get to look at it, until we establish what the appropriate fees will be." Deputy Mayor Marr seconded the motion. On Don Leitch's advice, the wording of the motion was changed from "waive" fees to "defer" fees, so council could still charge the fees once they decided what the fees should be.

Correspondence (Action)

1. Unkempt Roadsides and Ditches: Correspondence received from Joanne Ferguson, Ferguson Brothers, respecting unkempt roadsides and ditches.
In driving around the County of Elgin in the last week or two, I (we) cannot believe how unkempt the roadside and ditches are. Not only does it look bad, but it has become a HUGE safety issue; at many corners you have to creep out into the intersection to see if any traffic is approaching which is very dangerous ... This is disgraceful for our County and Township.

Mayor Walters asked Lloyd Perrin to bring his prior report on this from a few years ago back to Council, perhaps updating it, so Council can make an informed decision.

2. Outdoor Vendor Permit: Outdoor Vendor Permit received from Corrine Tombs, Cocoknots Macrame, respecting vending on the beach area.
This was a request for an outdoor vendor permit on the beach for a small home-based jewellery making business. The spot requested was by the boardwalk and they also wanted Council to "reconsider the insurance policy coverage to $1,000,000.00 or $2,000,000.00 [instead of the required $5 million] to make it within reason for a small business to get involved like ourselves."

Council agreed to grant the permit and offer her one of 6 possible locations by the boardwalk, but keep the insurance requirements as stated and previously decided by Council. "We are not insurance adjuster," Councillor McNeil stated, to which Deputy Mayor Marr agreed. Mayor Walters said they only want viable businesses on the beach and not a flea market.

3. 2014 Canfest: Correspondence received from Eric Salin, Port Stanley BIA, seeking approval for Farmtown Canada to be included in 2014 Canfest special event activities.
Council approved the additions requested for the Canfest festival.

Correspondence (for Council's Information)

  • Received as information collectively and filed
  • 1. Ontario Energy Board - Case No. EB2014-0053: Copy of correspondence sent from the Township of Malahide to the Ontario Energy Board respecting Case No. EB2014-0053.
  • 2. Port Stanley Festival Theatre - Expand the Experience: Correspondence received from the Port Stanley Festival Theatre thanking Council for their donation to the "Expand the Experience" Campaign.

Reports

CAO 33-14: Parkland Dedication, Jacklin Court Subdivision - Turvey Park:
Council passed a resolution

  • Directing staff to notify Prespa Construction Ltd. that the Municipality wishes to demand the conveyance of 1.5855 acres to the Municipality for parkland purposes in accordance with the terms of the development agreement dated May 31, 2010;
  • Confirming Council is agreeable to the configuration of the proposed conveyance, substantially in conformity with the sketch dated June 10, 2014; and
  • Requesting that comments received from the public following the on-site public open house held on May 29, 2014 be considered during the preparation of any conceptual landscape designs for the expanded Turvey Park.

PW 39-14: Annual Review of the Health & Safety Policies & Policy Statement:
Council reviewed the written occupational health and safety policy statement, and agreed to post a signed copy in the workplace, as stated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and acknowledged that the Administrative and Outside Workers health and safety committees performed their annual review of the health and safety policies.

PW 40-14: Elizabeth Street Road Widening:
This relates to the merging of two lots bought by Don and Joan Kirk for the purpose of building a residence, requiring the Kirks to convey a O.3m wide strip of land along the frontage of the lots to the municipality for road widening purposes. Council agreed to accept the conveyance subject to the conveyors paying all legal and survey costs for such conveyance.

PW 41-14: Supply & Apply Crack Sealing - Tender Award:
Council agreed to contract Roadmaster Road Construction and Sealing Limited of North York for a price of $1.74 per metre to route and seal various roads in the Municipality.

DFS 11-14: Acquisition of Vehicles:
Restructuring the workforce of the municipality left them, according to staff calculations and interpretation of policies, short one truck. With the position of Drainage Superintendent being separated from the role of Assistant Director of Physical Services, an additional vehicle Is necessary to meet staff's positional requirements.

Staff also noted that excessive spending has occurred on repairs to the municipal hybrid SUV because of limited access to the specialized parts and the higher costs associated with acquiring them for hybrid vehicles. For this reason, staff are also recommending that Council direct staff to prepare a tender for the replacement of the hybrid SUV one year in advance of its designated replacement schedule.

Councillor Martyn didn't know why they need a pick-up truck instead of a compact car. Lloyd Perrin said it's because they need the off-road capability and sometimes to carry equipment. As well, at the end of their useful life they are passed down to Parks & Recreation or the Roads department to be used until the fall, when they are sold at auction. Councillor Matthews thought "there must be at least some jobs in the municipality that don't require the use of a pick-up truck."

Pointing out that we are a rural and not urban municipality, Perrin said we need off-road capability for going onto construction and drainage sites, and these are the same types of vehicles [quad cab, 4 wheel drive, 1/2 ton pick-up] used by our ratepayers and by contractors.

Council authorized staff to acquire an additional 1/2 tonne pickup truck from Disbrowe Canada, subject to the same pricing and specifications of the award of tender CE-016-14, Part A; and to prepare a tender for the replacement of the existing Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).

By-laws

  • Taken and passed collectively
  • By-law 1749: Zoning By-law Amendment - 44892 Talbot Line, Myzsko
  • By-law 1750: Zoning By-law Amendment - 43746 Dexter Line, A.F. Kosynski Farms
  • By-law 1751: Confirmatory By-law
  • By-law 1752: Being a By-law to Execute an Agreement with Johnston Bros. (Bothwell) Ltd. for Supply and Placement of Road Granulars
  • By-law 1753: Being a By-law to Provide for Reduced Hours of Voting in Institutions and Retirement Homes on Voting Day
  • By-law 1754: Being a By-law to Execute an Agreement with Roadmaster Road Construction & Sealing Ltd. respecting Contract CE-022-14 - Asphalt Crack Sealing

New Business

Centennial Ave Update: Phase 2 work is coming to an end. North of Lawton is now restored and all the underground work is done. Curb, gutter and sidewalk work should begin this week, along with the base coat asphalt. They should be off Centennial by mid-July and able to re-open the road. Phase 3 has the underground work done for Stage 1 and Stage 2, and starting on the Lawton and Coulter underground work. The pumping station is physically working but they are having communication problems getting it hooked into their SCADA system. If Bell can't resolve them they will be approaching Execulink to develop a solution. Perrin expects people will be able to connect to the system shortly after July 1st.

Port Stanley Pay Parking Machines: The did have a big weekend and a resident called, concerned about line-ups at the machines. The requirement to enter your licence plate number is so that you do not have to walk back to your vehicle to display the ticket on the dashboard. "There was no problem with the machines, just with the operators," Perrin quipped. By-law officers were on site helping people use the machines correctly. The municipality has pulled in revenues of $16,750 to date from the new machines. There is now a parking lot good for wheelchairs and handicap at the end of the harbour walkway.

Unfinished Business
1. Front Street Bridge: staff directed to prepare a report on the structure

Closed Session
CS1: Eames Drain: Litigation or Potential Litigation (s.239(2)(e))
CS2: Port Stanley Harbour: Security of Property (s.239(2)(a))


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