Assiginack Council Notes

Lagoon closed to dumping

Council learned at its July 21 meeting that high phosphorous levels in the Manitowaning lagoon means it is closed, until further notice, to sewage dumping from outside sources.

CAO Alton Hobbs said the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) hopes it will only be a six-week issue. At the moment there is nowhere else in the municipality to dump.

Councillor Leslie Fields said that notice should be given to those ratepayers with septic systems that they arrange for pumpouts in the spring and fall and not during the hot summer months.

At the first of July, the lagoon was using three of its aerators, but it was expected that all nine will be in use before month’s end. This will also mean the consumption of “a huge amount of energy,” Mr. Hobbs warned.

By way of explanation, Mr. Hobbs told The Expositor that the sewage that comes from the system in Manitowaning is somewhat treated and discharged into the lagoon where it goes through a further treatment and is ultimately discharged into the bay. The process involves chemicals and aeration and introduced ‘fresher’ raw materials.

When a septic hauler discharges into the lagoon, it is the older and more concentrated raw material which does not receive much of the treatment process.  “Therefore, this material requires much more chemical and aeration and this increases the operating costs of the lagoon in the summer months,” Mr. Hobbs explained. “It requires this additional work or the phosphorous levels in the lagoon to rise and our Certificate of Approval for the lagoon has a maximum number that we are not to exceed.”

Both Central Manitoulin and the Northeast Town have agreed to allow access to the haulers for their sites, under their policies.  OCWA will monitor the levels for the foreseeable future.

Reeve turns mayor

Council reviewed a motion to change Assiginack’s head of council from ‘reeve’ to ‘mayor.’

“Why?” asked Councillor Brenda Reid.

Councillor Hugh Moggy spoke up, explaining that it was his idea and that there are very few municipalities left on Manitoulin with the moniker of reeve. “We’re in the 21st Century now,” he said.

In researching the name, CAO Alton Hobbs explained to council that of the 444 municipalities in the province, 59 still use reeve, most of which are in Northeastern Ontario. He also shared that the word mayor has its roots in ancient Rome while reeve is an old English term.

Council passed the motion, thus naming the former Reeve Paul Moffat the new Mayor Paul Moffat of Assiginack.

Tractor donation in the works

Councillor Hugh Moggy shared with council the discussions the Assiginack Museum committee is having with Burton Case who has offered to donate his 1946 Massey Ferguson tractor, complete with a bill of sale. Councillor Moggy said the tractor looks as new as the day it was purchased. He added that many people remember seeing Mr. Case’s father doing the custom threshing circuit using this tractor in the 1950s.

The plan is for the tractor to be displayed with the threshing machine that is already at the museum. “It needs to be cranked to be started right now, but he doesn’t want to give it away until he gets it fixed,” Councillor Moggy said.

Online tax payments

Staff prepared a report for council on giving taxpayers the option to pay taxes online, exploring the many service providers and their respective costs.

Councillor Moggy asked how much it would cost.

CAO Alton Hobbs explained that the municipality currently pays about $8,000 a year in fees to process credit and debit payments. An increasing number of people are choosing to call in their credit card numbers to the municipal office, “which now leaves us open to potential liability,” he said, adding that he believes adding an online option would help to limit their costs.

“We levy over $2 million in property taxes and wouldn’t doubt that 10 percent use credit cards, and that’s expected to rise,” the CAO said.

It also will enhance collections, Mr. Hobbs added.

Accounts for payment

Council approved the following accounts for payment: general, $105,821.81; and payroll, $24,930.14.

Before passing the motion to approve the payments, Councillor Moggy asked about the beach sand payment and whether or not it had been tendered. Mr. Hobbs explained that staff had called around and received three quotes, but it had not been tendered. Mr. Moggy said he would like to see more tenders.

Bylaws

Council passed Bylaw 15-03 to adopt the updated cemetery policies, interment rights contract and price list for Hilly Grove Cemetery. Councillor Moggy asked that ‘natural stone’ be added to the list of what is allowable for headstones.

Council also passed Bylaw 15-21 to appoint a drainage superintendent, Gary MacKay of Tulloch Engineering, pursuant to the Drainage Act.