Dysart budget includes 3.65% tax increase
By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Jan. 28 meeting of Dysart et al council.
Dysart councillors passed the 2020 budget months earlier this year than in the past, but not without further discussion.
The 3.65 per cent increase equates to an increase in taxes on residential properties of $10.36 for every $100,000 of assessment. For commercial properties that figure will be $15.36 for every $100,000 of assessment, and for industrial properties, an increase of $17.80 for every $100,000 of assessment.
Councillor John Smith expressed his concern that his request to add $200,000 to the roads budget was not incorporated into the budget and said council wasn’t putting “enough emphasis on roads.”
Smith had wanted to see the additional funding put into the roads department with offsetting savings to be found elsewhere, however that plan was not supported by the majority of council.
“The fact of the matter is, the residents believe that roads are way more important than we’re attaching to them based on our spending decisions here,” said Smith.
Councillor Larry Clarke and Councillor Walt McKechnie spoke about the value of recreational and cultural institutions including the museum, what Smith said people would call his “favourite targets.”
“That’s part of an overall community, part of a balanced budget we’re doing,” said Councillor Larry Clarke. “...They don’t move here because of the roads, they move here because it’s a place to take pride in.”
Clarke acknowledged that many residents have limited means, but also that it was important to offer infrastructure in the community so that people would find what they were looking for locally rather than in Bracebridge. He said council had recognized the essential need for improving the roads and were evaluating the overall roads structure to determine how they might be upgraded.
Mayor Andrea Roberts said there hadn’t been a consensus in taking $200,000 out from other areas of the budget when the topic was broached in December.
“While there’s difference of opinion, that’s OK,” she said. “We all got duly elected ... It was one of my goals to have more debate at council ... But when we do vote, then it becomes a decision of council.”
In a recorded vote that he requested, Smith’s was the sole vote against the budget.
Traffic assessment to guide council in future road decisions
A proposal for traffic counting, classification and speed survey services from Ontario Traffic Inc. was approved, for a price of $33,700, to be funded by the municipality’s 2020 operating budget.
“As part of updating its asset management plan, the municipality has invested in software (DOT Roads) to aid in determining the future needs of its roads,” wrote director of public works Rob Camelon in a report to council. “One key component of determining needs is assessing the traffic on each segment.
Previous traffic counts did not consider truck traffic or operating speed and counts were not taken on each section.”
Though the proposal was advertised for 30 days, the bid from Ontario Traffic Inc. was the only one received.
“Once completed, data will be available on all 337 road sections that indicate the volume of traffic, type of traffic and operating speed,” said Camelon’s report. “Counts will be completed prior to the summer season with a final report due in August.”
The cost for the project was included in the 2020 draft budget.
Councillors contemplate video surveillance
A draft video surveillance policy to regulate the use of video and audio surveillance in Dysart was presented to council for review, though chief administrative officer Tamara Wilbee said she will be meeting with other CAOs in the county to discuss a similar security policy recently outlined by the county that might further guide Dysart’s policy.
“Information obtained through video surveillance will be used primarily for safety, security and enforcement purposes, which relate to the protection of staff and the public, the deterrence or detection of illegal activity, including theft, vandalism, or other property damage or the contraventions of municipal policies,” reads Dysart’s draft policy.
“It’s a sign of the times,” said Mayor Andrea Roberts.
Security cameras have been purchased for the A.J. LaRue arena and will be tested there by staff prior to being tested outdoors at the skate park in the spring to ensure they meet the municipality’s requirements and function well. The policy notes that only the CAO, director of parks and recreation or staff designated by the director would be permitted to access the data collected by the equipment, which would not be retained longer than 30 days unless required due to a criminal, safety or security investigation or for evidentiary purposes.
Live monitoring would not take place unless an incident was suspected to be in progress, for example, noted Wilbee, if there was a concern or threat of vandalism, and that monitors would not be visible to the public. Posted signs would alert the public to the surveillance and Wilbee said through compliance with Information and Privacy Commisioner of Ontario regulations, privacy would not be breached.
“We’d only be going in to look at the data if there was an incident,” said Andrea Mueller, recreation and events co-ordinator.
“I’m not one that’s concerned about this, but some people do have quite an aversion, big brother syndrome, that people are watching them, they don’t like it,” said Councillor John Smith, who suggested the draft policy be tightened up in a few areas, which was noted would likely happen with the follow-up meeting involving the CAOs.
“Are we the only people in the world who have surveillance cameras?” asked Councillor Walt McKechnie. “What are we talking about here? What is the concern? We’re trying to protect our kids, our property.”
Head Lake Park visitors centre finds space
A location has been chosen for the proposed Head Lake Park visitors centre, a building welcoming visitors to the park and offering public washrooms.
“It is anticipated that the building will become an important feature within Head Lake Park and that placement of the building should include enough contextual information to ensure that it integrates well with the park and the immediate surroundings,” reads a report to council.
Representatives of Basterfield and Associates, who are assisting The Rotary Club of Haliburton and the municipality on the project, visited the site, planning both building function and early location options while considering a soils analysis report of the land.
“After review of the geotechnical information in the soils report it was determined that any location for the building within the open lawn and existing pathways just inside the park off York Street would be structurally problematic and expensive given the very poor soil conditions in this part of the park,” reads the report.
Six options for potential locations were looked at that were both away from poor soil conditions in the park and close to the downtown area. A spot between the park’s tourism caboose and the Rails End Gallery was recommended, as were minor modifications to the parking area, a small reduction of parking spaces, and a new curbed area around the proposed building and caboose.
“This area will be large enough to receive and accommodate [the] visitor centre, washroom and possible small seasonal food service activities associated with the new building,” reads the report. A new pedestrian plaza entrance to the park could “provide a more celebratory, safe and organized entrance to the park,” and might offer benches, bike racks, “some permanent interpretative panels about the relationship of the old mill to the lake and the downtown, banner poles to match the poles at the cenotaph and a park map.”
“I’m really excited about this project,” said Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy, who said discussions about the master park plan offers ideas that are “truly exciting.” He noted there would be some park disturbances, for example, the farmers market would be located elsewhere in the park this summer, as some of these plans come to fruition. Kennedy thanked Rotary Club for their initiative – the club has committed up to $75,000 toward the project.
Head Lake Park is a popular space for recreational activities and festivals.
“With approval of this new park building location and proposed site plan, the Rotary Club may advance the building and site designs to a construction ready level,” reads a report to council.
The report notes approval will also allow the refinement and completion of the park master plan, which B&A is working on in consultation with a stakeholders group, which met once last year and plans to meet again in March.
Winter conditions rough on roads
Fluctuations between warm and cold weather this season, as well as large amounts of rain and freezing rain has seen duties change daily at the roads department as it works to keep the roads maintained, according to a roads department update.
“The amount of rain we’ve had in the past two to three weeks has just been devastating to these roads,” Rob Camelon, director of public works, told council.
The roads department has had two incidents in which trucks have slid off of the roads.
“This is understandable considering the conditions that we have been faced with,” said operations manager Jeff Sisson in the report to council. Nobody was injured in the incidents in which one truck was reported to need about $5,000 in repairs.
Coleman Lake Bridge contract awarded
The contract to replace the timber bridge deck of Coleman Bridge on Coleman Lake Road with a new concrete bridge deck was awarded to low bidder Beam Construction (1984) Co. Ltd for about $270,000 plus HST.
Public works director Rob Camelon’s report said the concrete bridge was recommended “due to the increased life span over timber (50 years versus 15 years), noting the existing timber deck failed after 13 years, in part due to pests according to an assessment by Tulloch Engineering.
The construction is planned for spring 2020.
Firefighters volunteer almost 6,200 hours
Fire chief Mike Iles commended the department’s personnel for their work in 2019, noting the team responded to 364 calls last year, committing a total of 6,195 hours of time, an average of 200 hours per firefighter.
“[They’re] very dedicated, [we’re] very fortunate to have the volunteers we have,” said Iles.
Mayor Andrea Roberts agreed, noting, “[t]hose hours are not generally Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, they’re right when you sit down to eat, it’s two in the morning, they’re birthdays,” acknowledging that many volunteers also have full-time jobs.
Gas station, car wash, restaurant, convenience store proposed
Council supported the general principle of a proposal for the construction of a gas station, car wash, restaurant and convenience store on a lot next to the Pinestone Resort located on County Road 21 west of Haliburton, as well as an easement over Pinestone’s driveway to provide access to the 1.32 acre development.
In a report to council, Ore Alade, planner, said the proposal is subject to conditions and comments received through a public review process.
“The owners are undergoing a site plan control process with the municipality to review the proposed plans for the subject area,” reads the report. “Provincial approvals are required for the gas station. These approvals are required to regulate the facility and protect ground water.”
As part of the application, a stormwater management plan, environmental site assessment and hydrogeological information are required to support the site plan for the development, information that will be obtained and evaluated as part of the application, according to the report.
“It’s very exciting for our community, especially to have a car wash,” said Mayor Andrea Roberts. “There’ll be a lineup. So hope to see construction going shortly, that’s fabulous.”
Rails End Gallery request for continued funding
Marguerite Easby and Dagmar Boettcher, representing the board of the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre made a delegation to council on behalf of Laurie Jones, director/curator of the gallery and arts centre, to request a continued municipal grant of $50,000 for 2020.
“Dysart et al is our main funder and accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of our operating income,” reads a report to council by Jones, noting other funding sources include earned income such as membership and program fees, fundraising, sponsorships and advertising, donations and project funding from federal, provincial and county sources. “This gives Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre the stability to plan and deliver a wide range of services to our community and to maintain Haliburton’s landmark rail station as a cultural amenity.”
Easby, presenting Jones’s report to council, noted the community-based, public art gallery was a popular tourist destination “known for its engaging exhibitions, welcoming staff, local artist gift shop and for organizing excellent cultural festivals that bring thousands of visitors to the region.” The space is home to events including Haliburton Art and Craft Festival, Haliburton DrumFest, Trash N Treasures Market and Butter Tart Contest, and a year-round program of local and regional artists and group exhibitions.
Skating and shinny in West Guilford
Dysart et al staff repaired boards on West Guilford’s outdoor skating rink, and staff flooded the rink with the assistance of the fire department, making the rink ready for use. The rink will be maintained by volunteers.