HE to review short-term rental responses ‘line by line’
By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a May 14 meeting of Highlands East council.
Twenty-six responses from a public review period seeking feedback on a short-term accommodation draft engagement questionnaire were collected from Feb. 13 to April 30 and council was asked whether they would like to review the full responses and submit changes to the questionnaire to staff by May 27 for discussion at the June 11 council meeting, or review responses at the June 11 meeting one question at a time, finalizing the draft at that meeting.
“I think we should have the discussion at an open council meeting rather than electronically, so I would prefer if we went through it line by line, question by question,” said Councillor Suzanne Partridge.
The municipality has been trying for some time to regulate the practice of renting out dwellings.
“I just want council to be aware that if we are looking at delivery [of the survey] as a direct mail-out, possibly through our tax bills, we are on a bit of a deadline, so that June 11 we would have to basically confirm the questionnaire and put it to bed for it to get out in time with the tax bill,” said clerk Robyn Rogers.
“I won’t be rushed,” said Partridge, noting the issue had been controversial and council should prepare for a second mailing although hopefully an agreement on what the final survey will look like will be reached June 11.
During council’s inaugural meeting on Dec. 6 last year, the questionnaire was decided on to obtain more information from the public about which short-term accommodation approach best suits the municipality rather than a planned short-term accommodation committee. At that time, Mayor Dave Burton said the issue had been contentious and had divided the municipality.
New septic team in place
Chief building official Laurie Devolin introduced Arlene Quinn, full-time septic instructor, as well as Dylan Smith and Jonas Hill, who have been hired as this year’s summer student septic maintenance inspectors to help with the municipality’s septic re-inspection program, now in its third year.
Ryall requested more information about the septic re-inspection program, specifically with a report on outstanding violations of septics deemed to be high risk and very high risk in 2017 and 2018.
“We do still have a number of people who are ignoring us, unfortunately, so we do have to now take it up to the next step of issuing orders,” said Devolin. “We’ve been giving people lots of opportunities. We’ve sent out, in some cases, three letters, and so now we need to get to the next part of, I wouldn’t want to say legal, but certainly issuing orders so that people understand we are serious, especially if it is high-risk.”
Devolin said she would return with a report at the next council meeting.
Partridge asked if any follow-up was done on septics deemed “moderate.”
“We have done follow-up on those ones,” said Devolin. “It’s usually a follow-up site inspection or people will send [before-and-after] pictures. Typically it would be decommissioning an outhouse that’s maybe too close to a water body, vegetation that is growing on a septic bed – that’s primarily what the issue is, a lot of people don’t realize that trees growing on a septic bed is a problem. Once they understand what the risks are, then they will go ahead and look after that.”
Organizational review begins in June
Savino Human Resources Partners will lead an organizational review, including pay equity, for the municipality, at a cost of $27,925. The SHRP proposal was one of three received in response to a request for proposal ending April 11.
“SHRP identified the key objectives for this review will be to ensure that the Municipality of Highlands East’s organizational structure, staffing, service delivery model, organizational processes and employee compensation systems and policies are effective and represent up-to-date best practice,” reads a report from Shannon Hunter, CAO/treasurer. “In addition SHRP will be responsible for developing and confirmation of a compensation program which is compliant with current legislation, including pay equity. SHRP’s review will include input received from key stakeholders (staff and council).”
Staff had budgeted $28,000 for the review.
Highlands East first to support county climate change plan
Charlsey White, county director of planning and deputy CAO, and Craig Douglas, county director of public works, are making the rounds to lower tier councils to ask for support in creating one cohesive climate change adaptation and mitigation plan for the county.
“What we’re hoping is that the county climate change and action plan will outline our environmental sustainable priorities, establish collective and individual greenhouse gas emission targets/goals, and to identify the different ways in which we’re going to work together to achieve those goals,” said White. In supporting the plan, the county is asking each municipality to provide assistance through a staff member who can gather municipal specific data on energy and emissions inventory for all buildings, fleet, water and sewage treatment, street lighting and solid waste, and also planning policy and procedures.
”I commend staff and county council for having such an aggressive plan,” said Partridge. Council received the report and offered support for the initiative.
County launches increased shoreline protection project
White also made a delegation to council regarding shoreline preservation, as the county is seeking support from municipalities in enhancing a shoreline protection bylaw.
“There are protections in place for our shorelines and lakes and waterways, however, the policies really are only implemented at the time of development or site alteration, when an application is made for some sort of change in use under the planning act, so other than that, there’s no effectual way to stop people from doing certain things or encouraging them to do better things to make our shorelines more productive areas,” said White.
The goals and objectives of the enhanced bylaw include ensuring no further loss of natural shorelines, increasing the proportion of natural/native vegetative cover, and working toward a goal of 75 per cent natural/native vegetative cover overall for better lake health.
“You’ll be able to still have your docks and your fire pits and that sort of thing, but what we’re looking to stop is termed as ‘grassing,’ so when you’ve basically got your lawn all the way down to the shoreline and that’s it … that’s the kind of changes and alterations we’re trying to stop,” said White.
The proposed new protections include the protection of natural shoreline vegetation, regulating site alteration and regulating cleaning and clearing of land, combined with the continued protection of trees.
Public consultation with lake associations and property owners will take place.
Partridge asked how residents would be encouraged toward shoreline restoration, and White said the county was in discussions with the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations, who have a number of education programs regarding lake health.
Council supported the initiative.
Rogers presented to council a development charges background study project from the county.
A staff report from county planner Charlsey White in April explains, “Development charges are one-time fees imposed by municipalities on land developers, home builders and institutions when they develop or build upon an area of land. The fees are intended to offset the cost of increased municipal services and infrastructure required due to population growth within the municipality resulting from new development. A development charge may be imposed across all or only part of the municipality and more than one development charge bylaw can apply to an area.”
Development charges do not currently exist within Haliburton County or the four lower tiers, but they are widespread in many Ontario municipalities.
Three options were proposed to council: that council approve participation with the county and direct a staff member to collaborate in the creation of a request for proposal for a completion of the study; that council opt to not participate regarding the creation of an RFP for a development charges study, or that council defer the discussion to allow for further discussion to take place.
“Not knowing is also not smart, so if all we’re going to be doing here is committing to finding out more information, without being committed to development charges, then I think it’s a good thing,” said Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall.
Council opted for the first option in support.
RV draft bylaw in
Bylaw enforcement officer Wayne Galloway brought a recreational vehicles draft bylaw to council, asking them to “go through it, review it, have a good look at it,” and return to him with any changes so the final draft can be adopted at the June 11 council meeting.
“We took your concerns to heart and tried to work them back in, I think most of them are there now,” said Galloway. “I would like you to really go through this bylaw, pick it apart, see if there’s any problems.”
The draft bylaw has been in the works since February 2018, and is available for review by clicking on May 14 and reviewing the council meeting agenda at haliburton.civicweb.net.
Clean and Clear
Several complaints about various properties not conforming to the Clean and Clear bylaw in place in Highlands East have resulted in a 2004 bylaw being amended to reflect today’s standards, according to Galloway.
“After several attempts to work within the confines of that bylaw it was decided that it would be better to draft an entirely new bylaw that would take into consideration the views and opinions of council from September 2018,” reported Galloway. “Currently there are five different and distinct definitions of what ‘waste’ material includes. While the five definitions are all-encompassing they also create a situation wherein I believe that every property within the municipality is in contravention of the current bylaw.”
The draft bylaw now being reviewed has a “new definition for derelict motor vehicles and refuse has been lumped together which should encompass all five of the previous definitions.”
Exceptions have been made for agricultural lands and naturalized areas in regards to grass or weeds exceeding eight inches in height, and a clarification has been made regarding the storage and number of motor vehicles allowed on any property. “As you travel around our fair municipality have a look and see if our bylaws will cover some of the properties that we have,” Galloway said to council.
The draft bylaw is available for review by clicking on May 14 and reviewing the council meeting agenda at haliburton.civicweb.net.
The Cardiff community centre steel roof contract has been awarded to AGC and Associations Inc. at a cost of $28,671. Seven tender bids were received ranging from the AGC bid price to $87,010. Supply and delivery of calcium chloride for the roads department received two tender bids, with Morris Chemicals, the low bidder, being approved. Supply and application of surface treatment was awarded to Miller Paving Ltd at a total price of $348,040, compared to Greenwood Paving Ltd’s tender bid of $348,492.
“Greenwood was two cents cheaper for the pulverization, three cents higher on the surface treatment, which means Miller’s come in one cent per square metre less than the other one,” said Earl Covert, roads superintendent. “That’s what I call competitive bidding.”
Concerns about burning brush
In April, a cottager wrote to council regarding materials being burned at the Tory Hill dump.
Christine Brown of Cartwheel Court said she was writing with “an urgent desire to see local changes be made that will support mitigating climate change.”
“Last year we witnessed the extreme heat from the first set to deal with scrap and brush,” she wrote. “It now seems highly inappropriate to continue the practice of burning, especially in light of the recent report to the federal government that [cited] Canada’s poor record on climate change action … We may not be able to make a big difference in that statistic, but it is unconscionable to continue to contribute to it. Brush, in particular, is biodegradable and should be buried, not burned, unless it can be incorporated into a clean burning biofuel.”
“Surely we can find options to burning, find creative sustainable solutions, and invest in those solutions,” she wrote. “We are being urged to have new priorities and they will be best undertaken at the local level where we live, work and play … We must be proactive in Ontario, and perhaps eliminate all outdoor burning, a luxury we can no longer afford. Let’s start with the municipal dump in Tory Hill.”
“Just for the record, all material is burned in accordance with our Environmental Compliance Approval at the site,” said Stewart Hurd, environmental supervisor. “That being said, we aren’t opposed to any recommendations or thoughts as to alternatives to burning our brush.”
Partridge mentioned the possibility of pulverizing materials instead, which Hurd agreed to look into regarding costs as a potential budgetary item in upcoming years.
Canada Day event in need of funding from committee reserves
Council approved the use of $1,000 from the recreation and culture committee reserve funds to help supplement the 2019 Canada Day event budget.
“The Canada Day committee has received less federal grant funds this year than anticipated,” reads a report from the recreation and culture advisory committee. “That, combined with a budgeting oversight has left the Canada Day budget short.”
The 2019 Canada Day events budget is $6,000, which the report says was revised down from $7,870 when the committee learned grant funds were reduced from $5,000 in 2018 to $2,800 this year. The municipality is contributing $2,200.
“[The] recreation and culture advisory committee has sufficient reserve funds to cover the cost of the previously approved generator purchase and to supplement the Canada Day event,” reads the report.
“Few events pull the entire municipality together as this one has done in the past two years and it is a tradition we would like to continue.”
Dentist lease extended
The municipality is extending a lease with Dr. Khodadad Dadelahi, a dentist, for use of demised space in the medical centre at 2165 Loop Road until Dec. 31 this year. The current lease agreement expired on Feb. 28.
“For the months of March and April, the municipality has carried out the lease on a month to month basis, per the provisions of the agreement, until such time that both parties had a chance to review and provide input on the necessary documentation and lease term,” reads a May 14 report by Brittany McCaw, deputy CAO/treasurer.
Municipality presented with 2018 audit findings
Richard Steiginga of Bakertilly presented findings of a 2018 audit to council and said the municipality is in good financial standing. The municipality’s financial assets continue increasing annually, with just over $5.5 million as of Dec. 31, compared to just over $4.7 million in 2017, and up from just over $3 million in 2014.
Total revenues in 2018 totalled almost $8.7 million, with almost $5.6 million of that coming from property taxation.
Facilities review popular
Thirteen proposals were submitted to the municipality in response to a request for building condition assessment proposals.
The proposals ranged in price from $49,900 to $265,060 according to a report submitted to council by Brittany McCaw, deputy CAO/treasurer.
After contacting WalterFedy’s references, staff recommended council award the RFP to the integrated design firm, which is based in Kitchener, at a cost of $55,000 plus taxes.
“The condition assessment of municipal facilities will be a very detailed project that requires a large time commitment from both staff and the hired consultant,” reads the report. “WalterFedy has broken the project deliverables into a total of four phases (Project Start Up & Execution, Site Assessment Visits, Data Analysis & Draft Reporting and Final Reporting) with the first phase slated to begin June 3. The final report and presentation is to be completed no later than Oct. 31, 2019.”
The municipality had budgeted $50,000 for a facilities review this year, and so staff recommended council decrease the transfer to reserve for the new building fund by $5,000 to make up the difference.