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Relief Sought from Sewer Portion of Water Bills
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 Relief Sought from Sewer Portion of Water Bills 
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A number of Port Stanley residents who experienced water leaks due pipe breaks caused by this winter's extreme cold asked Council for some relief on the sewage portion of their water bills as the leaked water did not enter the municipality's sewer system; but rather, leaked into the ground of the properties. The bills ranged from $1,136.55 to $15,465.15 for these burst pipe water leaks.

Employee Recognition

1. 2013 Employee Recognition for Attendance:
Members of Municipal Staff will be recognized for their attendance on 2013 Job Evaluation (Pay Equity) Committee; 2013 Joint Health & Safety Committee and 2013 Excellent Attendance (2 days or less due to sickness, etc.).

This annual rite opened the council meeting of March 24, 2014 and rewards municipal employees for missing no more than 2 days from work during the previous year and/or for serving on the Job Evaluation (Pay Equity) Committee, Joint Health & Safety Committee. It includes senior staff like Lloyd Perrin and Don Crocker.

Correspondence (Action)

1. Request for Water/Sewer Charge Refund/Compensation:
Correspondence received from Mark & Stephanie Lensink, 147 Second Street ($2,788.20); Arlene Boyd Koudys, 216 Harrison Place ($15,465.15); Richard & Carolyn Bennett, 148 Second Street ($1,136.55); and Michael & Brenda Scheffler, 123 Maud Street ($1,861.56) requesting refund or some compensation for the sewer charge on their water/sewer bills.

Although the pipes in the Lensink's crawl space are insulated, this year the frost plate on the meter cracked open due to the cold and flooded their crawl space (normal winter usage is 1 cubic meter every two months but this bill was for 634 cubic meters). "We are not asking for the complete bill to be reduced, as the water did enter the property crawl space from the municipal side ... Our request is that the sewage portion (the obvious being our crawl space became the spot for the water to collect and soak into the soil) be waived for compassionate reasons ... That would reduce our bill from $2,788.20 to the water portion of the bill, which is $1,522.30."

"On Friday February 28th we received a phone message at our residence in St. Clements from the water utility that our Port Stanley cottage was flagged as consuming a substantial amount of water," wrote Arlene Boyd Koudys. "Between the original reading on Tuesday Feb 25 to the second reading on Friday Feb 28 the cottage had consumed another 200 cubic meters of water. Andrea Brown directed the field staff to immediately turn the water off and placed a call to our home in St. Clements, leaving a message for us to contact the utility as soon as possible ... My husband and I travelled to Port Stanley first thing Saturday morning to find that water had escaped from somewhere on the upper floor of our cottage and flooded the cottage from top to bottom. In addition to the complete destruction of the interior of our Port Stanley cottage, we were informed that 3,589 cubic meters of water had been consumed since the previous reading of 8 cubic meters on December 21st, 2013. The ensuing bill for water and sewer is $15,465.15 ... With the understanding that an accommodation to provide relief on this utility is only within your discretion, I respectfully and humbly request that you consider the enormous financial and emotional burden that this expense will have on my family, and find it within yourselves to provide relief on this bill."

Richard & Carolyn Bennett also had a pipe burst in their heated and winterized cottage, resulting in an $1,136.55 water bill. Because all the water pipes run underneath the cottage, the water did not come into the cottage and only seeped into the ground underneath the cottage. Because all of the water that leaked was absorbed into the ground and did not go into the sewer system, they were also asking for relief on the sewer portion of the bill.

Michael & Brenda Scheffler had a pipe burst resulting in a $1,861.56 water bill. "On Jan. 25, 2014, we had a misforutnate mishap with a pipe that burst and water was hitting the shower inside wall and down into our dirt crawl space. My plumber has enclosed his bill so he will attest to the leakage containing within the home. Our home is always kept at 75 degrees," they wrote. They also asked for a discount off the sewage portion of the bill as the water did not go into the sewage system, and "enclosed a letter from Bob Brown who is a Water and Wastewater Supervisor for the Township of Woolwich. He has credited customer's sewage portions and in some cases will bill the average general usage in a case like ours."

The original motion to hit the floor for Council's consideration was to deny these claims.

"Polar Vortex," Councillor McNeil spit out. Stating that when a similar situation came to Council two years ago he was a proponent of not charging the sewer component because the water went into the ground, not the sewer system. Saying this was an extreme hard case, and noting that Port Stanley has many cottage owners who are not there during the winter, "it behoves us to tell people that they should turn off their water. I'm still in favour of showing some mercy and some sympathy to waive these sewer charges. Yes, pay for the water, but the addition of the sewer charges is a bit much." Councillors Martyn, McFarlan and Carr agreed with him, with Carr noting he'd experienced a similar leak problem this year at his own cottage in Port Stanley.

"We have in the past turned it down," said Deputy Mayor David Marr. "Just going to caution that if we do this, there may be some requests revisited." McNeil instantly agreed with Marr and said they should grant the relief only for these 4 properties. Marr said they would obviously have to re-write the whole policy, and were going to have to be able to determine if the water ran into the ground or into the sewer system. He though the Twp of Woolwich forgave only half of the sewer amount. "We can't forgive the water part."

McNeil noted that when watering your garden or lawn, the water went into the soil and not the sewer system, but they still charged the sewer charge. "I don't want to change policy, just address these four due to exceptional circumstances, particularly the fifteen thousand dollar one."

Mayor Walters said he has no problem with being compassionate, but in the fifteen thousand dollar one, the water did go into the sewer system. He suggested deferring a decision until the next council meeting (April 14, 2014) to give staff a chance to look into how other municipalities handle this situation, and informing these four property owners that no interest would be charged on their overdue accounts while staff investigates.

"If people do not take the necessary precautions [to winterize their homes and cottages, including turning off the water when they are away even if they do use it occasionally in the winter]," Deputy Mayor Marr said "we are not the insurance company. We have to be very, very clear on that."

No explanation was given as to why municipal staff had shut the water off at only one of these residences when they noticed abnormal usage.

Councillor Martyn said she did not want to change the municipal policy and did not think they had to change the policy just to forgive the sewer portion on these four bills. She wanted to pass a resolution tonight to just exempt the sewer charge on these four bills, as a one-time only thing under exceptional circumstances.

Walters was concerned they would be setting a dangerous precedent. "If you do this you will have others apply for it," Marr warned. Lloyd Perrin said he believed that in the fifteen thousand dollar case, the water did go down the sewers and it was almost as much water as the Port Stanley water tower holds.

The motion to simply deny the claims was defeated and the second motion, to defer the issue to the next council meeting to allow for staff investigation, was carried. It's an election year. Will mercy and compassion prevail, or a strict adherence to established policy in the coldest winter we've had since 1975?

2. Proposed Tree By-law:
Correspondence received from Ken White Sr. respecting proposed Tree By-law. This letter encourages Council to consider the science regarding tree cutting, noting that when large, top heavy trees topple over on the side of a hill, their upturned root systems are where hill side erosion starts. However, if they are cut before that happens and the stump is left in place, it helps to maintain the integrity of the hill side and the canopy opening allows sunlight through and many smaller trees to establish in the area of the stump, whose roots systems further improve the integrity of the hill side.

Staff was directed to write a letter to Mr. White thanking him for his concerns, but Mayor Walters insisted Mr. White's letter be forwarded on to Jeff Lawrence and Mr. Gibson so that consideration is given to Mr. White's remarks.

3. Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC):
Correspondence received from OAFC respecting OAFC Municipal Politicians Seminar - The Essential's of Firefighting and Firefighting 101 - May 5 and 6, 2014. This seminar offers municipal councillors and staff the opportunity to understand the challenges of the fire service and its Importance to their communities. Approval was given for council and staff members to attend this seminar, according to municipal policy.

Correspondence (for Council's Information)

1. Lincoln M. Alexander Award 2014:
Correspondence received from Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration announcing Lincoln M. Alexander Award 2014. This award is presented to honour young Ontarians who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in contributing to the elimination of racial discrimination. This letter was a request for nominations for the 2014 award. Received as information without discussion.

2. Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee (JAAC):
Copy of minutes of County of Elgin/Central Elgin Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting dated September 18, 2013. Only saying that the JAAC reviewed the County's accommodations policy; that Central Elgin presented their Multi-Year Accessibility Plan which mirrors Elgin County's plan; that they reviewed the updated JAAC Terms of Reference; and that J. Cowan reviewed the guides with the JAAC that were developed by the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association regarding accessible meetings and public engagement processes; and nothing about what was actually in any of these reports; these minutes provide no useful information. Received as information without discussion.

Reports

CAO 10-14: Records Retention Program Policy: A bit of administrative housecleaning regarding transferring municipal file to laser fiche storage and when certain types of files can be deleted/destroyed. Council approved the records management policy attached as Schedule "A" to By-Law 1707, "Being a By -law to Delegate the Authority for Establishing or Amending Retention Periods to the Clerk, and to Establish a Records Retention Program Policy for the Municipality of Central Elgin"

CAO 11-14: Eastwood Subdivision Area: Proposed By-law - Designate an Area to which Sanitary Sewage Works shall be Extended and to Establish Rates to Recover Part of the Cost. The proposed rate is $8,937.42 (Option 2A) per residential property. Council received this report as information and is currently scheduled to consider the draft by-law at its meeting of April 14, 2014. Walters declared a conflict on this one and did not take part in the vote or discussion, and Matthews was absent from this meeting.

CAO 12-14: Port Stanley Business Improvement Area: Proposal for William Street/Edith Cavell Boulevard Conceptual Plans.
Eric Salin, Chair of the Board of Management of the Port Stanley Business Improvement Area ( BIA), has written to Council requesting the Municipality to partner with the BIA in a project to prepare a conceptual streetscape plan for William Street and Edith Cavell Boulevard ( copy attached). Ted Halwa of Monteith Brown Planning has submitted a proposal to carry out the project for a cost of $8,000. The BIA is requesting Council to fund half of the project cost, $4,000, this year.

Staff supports going ahead with the project for Edith Cavell Boulevard at this time, but deems any such plans for William Street to be premature at this time. Staff would recommend that Monteith Brown, through the BIA Board of Management, be requested to submit a revised proposal detailing the work for Edith Cavell Boulevard alone. In addition, if the project is to proceed, Council should re-allocate funding within its 2014 budget for this project.

Finally, staff would recommend that should the project proceed, a steering committee be established with two representatives of the BIA and two members of Council, with staff in a supporting capacity, to work with the consultants in the development of the conceptual plans.

Council pass a resolution stating that:

  • the Municipality of Central Elgin has an interest in partnering with the Port Stanley BIA in developing a conceptual streetscape plan for Edith Cavell Boulevard subject to Council' s review of revised terms of reference from Monteith Brown and the re-allocation of funding in the 2014 budget; and
  • Council considers a conceptual streetscape plan for William Street to be premature until the outcome of a number of projects is known.

PW 12-14: Colborne Street Dockage - Award: In a tendered process, staff is recommending renting the Colborne Street Dockage (approximately 53m of shoreline along Kettle Creek parallel to Colborne Street located between the Portside Marina to the north and Stan' s Marina to the south) to Portside Marina (Gerrit Koops) in the amount of $2,125.00 per year.

McNeil said they had previously received correspondence from people living on Colborne Street about the problem created by marina users parking on the street. Martyn also said concern had been expressed about the size of boats and other things parked on the street. Perrin said this is further down and renting out that dockage will have no impact on parking. "Historically there has always been somewhat of a parking issue with this," said Marr. "It's nothing new. The problem already exists," he stated as if it was a reason not to fix it. Council voted to rent the dockage to Portside Marina for $2,125.00 per year.

PW 13-14: Paid Parking Equipment Acquisition: Staff recommends purchasing on a lease-to-own basis 9 Pay by Plate parking terminals from JJ MacKay over a 3 year term. They cost $8,595.00 each exclusive of HST and can be equipped to accept Canadian bills for an additional cost per terminal of $975. They will be placed at the entrances of the municipal parking lots and should reduce the incidence of ticketing when someone has not yet returned with a ticket to display on their dashboard. The report states that the annual lease payment would not be more that the profit sharing paid by the municipality during the 2013 season. As Perrin explained it, they are actually buying the equipment, just using an alternative method to finance that purchase through the lease to own concept. Council agreed to enter into the three-year lease-to-own agreement.

DFS 05-14: 2013 Statement of Remuneration and Expenses for Council Members: Received as information without comment.

Name Remuneration Special
Meetings
Mileage Conventions/
Seminars
Total
Mayor Walters $18,466.99 $ $900.52 $529. 15 $19,896.66
+ Elgin County $20,223.13 $ $ $ $20,223.13
Deputy Mayor Marr $12,177.86 $6,975.00 $450.26 $696.31 $20,299.43
+ Elgin County $23,289.88 $ $ $2,818.30 $26,108.18
Carr (Ward 3) $9,383.07 $8,550.00 $450.26 $2,728.68 $21,112.01
Martyn (Ward 2) $9,383.07 $7,891. 01 $450.26 $1,237.94 $18,962.28
Matthews (Ward 4) $9,383.07 $6,150.00 $450.26 $3,083.56 $19,066.89
McFarlan (Ward 5) $9,383.07 $2,700.00 $450.26 $ $12,533.33
McNeil (Ward 1) $9,383.07 $11,175.00 $450.26 $1,021. 67 $22,030.00
Totals $77,560.20 $43,441.01 $3,602.08 $9,297.31 $133,900.60

The total spent on Council in 2013 is just some $600 or so more than Central Elgin paid to CAO Don Leitch ($133,351.92 wages + $752.59 taxable benefits). The Elgin County portion for the mayor and deputy mayor are in addition to their municipal remuneration and expenses. Those totals are not included in the totals at the bottom of the remuneration and expenses table as they were not a direct Central Elgin expense.

By-laws

  • Taken and passed collectively
  • By-law 1702: Official Plan Amendment - Pineo, 9823 Yarmouth Centre Road
  • By-law 1703: Zoning By-law Amendment - Pineo, 9823 Yarmouth Centre Road
  • By-law 1704: Zoning By-law Amendment - Todd, 42323 & 42395 Roberts Line
  • By-law 1705: Zoning By-law Amendment - Prespa , 8748 Centennial Road
  • By-law 1706: Confirmatory By-law
  • By-law 1707: Being a By-law to Delegate the Authority for Establishing or Amending Retention Periods to the Clerk, and to Establish a Records Retention Program Policy for the Municipality of Central Elgin

New Business

Belmont Cross-Walk: Councillor McFarlan is looking for some moral and financial support from the Municipality of Central Elgin in the Belmont Policing Committee's push to get a cross-walk installed on Belmont Road. The County turned down the request, saying there was not enough vehicular and pedestrian traffic to warrant a cross-walk.

OMPF Funding Formula: Karen DePrest told council that, as a result of Central Elgin's presentation regarding changes to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding formula at the Good Roads Conference, she had been invited by Ontario's Minister of Finance to attend round table discussions on finalizing the OMPF funding formula.

Code of Conduct: With Councillor Matthews absent (who had previously opposed the institution of a new, and in his view excessively restrictive, code of conduct), Councillor Stephen Carr raised the issue again, asking for it to be brought back to council soon for another discussion on it. He noted quite a few other municipalities have adopted it. Mayor Walters said he wanted it in place before this session ended so that it would bind the new Council. Councillor Marty said she does not want the Code of Conduct to duplicate the behaviours they already swear to follow when being sworn in with their Oath of Office.

Closed Session

  • CS1: A Proposed or Pending Acquisition or Disposition of Land (s.239(2)(c)) - Barnums Gully Line
  • CS2: A Proposed or Pending Acquisition or Disposition of Land (s.239(2)(c)) - Harding Smith Line
  • CS3: Closed Session Minutes

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