Assiginack Council Notes

Assiginack looks to adopt alcohol policy

Two representatives of the Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU) attended the November 19 meeting of Assiginack council in support of the municipality passing a municipal alcohol policy.

According to clerk Alton Hobbs, the municipality had been in conversation with the SDHU for some time over the policy, with the health unit giving sample policies and providing comment on draft copies.

Mr. Hobbs noted that the SDHU’s presence at council that night showed just how important this is to the organization. He said that while the policy might raise the ire of some of the local service clubs and organizations, “I don’t care about the greater public good, I care about the municipality not being sued.”

Councillor Paul Moffat cheekily questioned as to whether the City of Toronto had such a policy in place, referencing the recent Rob Ford scandal, to much laughter from the council table.

“There will probably be some public grief over some things,” the clerk added, “but it’s not our grandfather’s shindig ‘let’s have a party in the barn’ anymore. I’d rather us dot our i’s and cross our t’s.”

Councillor Leslie Fields asked about having underage people at a licenced event after 8 pm, as well as the rule of having food readily available, as per the Liquor Licence Act.

Council agreed that if the event is a family-friendly one, such as a wedding or anniversary party, that those under the age of 19 be permitted to stay.

As for food, the SDHU explained that it’s up to the municipality as to what food actually means. “You can specify that chips and peanuts don’t count,” they said. The SDHU reps used the City of Greater Sudbury as an example, which has it specified in their alcohol policy that at a minimum, sandwiches and veggies and dip must be served. They explained that proteins slow down the effects of alcohol.

Recommendations in the draft policy include: the licence holder must have one Smart Serve bartender per shift per 50 people to serve alcohol, one door supervisor per 50 people, one floor supervisor per 50 people at the event, and paid duty police officers or licenced private security must be contracted and in attendance at the event.

Once the final policy is approved and passed by council, a copy of the policy will be sent to all the service clubs and organizations in the municipality. All rental agreements will include a copy as well.

The SDHU congratulated Assiginack “for taking this step” adding that “by putting this bylaw in place, you’re making your community healthier and safer.”

Minister meeting

Last week Reeve Brad Ham had the opportunity to meet with Minister of Transport Glen Murray in Espanola, along with Billings Mayor Austin Hunt, the mayor of Espanola, Mike Lehoux, the mayor of the Township of North Shore and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha.

The group met to discuss the effects of small water systems on their taxpayers due, in many cases, to the unreasonably high water rates their users must pay. The reeve explained that the minister seemed to have little sympathy for the plight of the municipality with high water rates, but was more interested in Assiginack’s and Billings’ problem with finding replacement filters for its water treatment plants. The former manufacturer, US Filter, went out of business and the municipalities have yet to find a replacement filter. The current filters have a few years remaining on their life.

“I still don’t understand how the government expects people to pay high water rates and expect people to live,” Councillor Brenda Reid stated.

The group also discussed the Town of Espanola’s concerns with the Darkie Creek culvert, which is in severe need of replacement. Espanola had stated that since the culvert falls on Highway 6, provincial territory, it should be up to the province to fix, but the province maintains that this culvert is within the town’s boundaries, and therefore is its problem. Due to the huge cut in its Domtar mill assessment rate, Espanola cannot afford to fix the culvert. It has also reached out to Manitoulin municipalities and First Nations, as failing to replace the culvert could mean a load restriction on the highway that would ultimately impact commerce on the Island.

Stormy discussion

Assiginack council had a lengthy discussion regarding the windstorm that knocked out power across Manitoulin on Monday, November 18 and into November 19.

“If this was January, what would we have done for a warming station?” asked Councillor Fields. “We have no place with a generator.”

Mr. Hobbs noted that the Assiginack clinic is not equipped with a generator either, and had to ship its vaccines to the Mindemoya hospital. He noted a previous “table top” meeting held between Assiginack, Tehkummah, Central Manitoulin and the OPP where the parties assured one another they would always help one another in the case of an emergency, “but it died right there on the table.”

The reeve said that the cost to buy a big generator and wire it in is substantial, but perhaps the municipality should look into the purchase of off-the-shelf generators and some infrared heaters for emergency use.

The clerk reminded council that it would have to look into staffing, as well as where the municipality’s responsibilities end.

“This bears a discussion separate from the budget,” Mr. Hobbs said.

Councillor Moffat called the topic of a municipal emergency shelter “a pressing issue” while Councillor Reid and Fields spoke of identifying Assiginack’s most vulnerable citizens through a contact list in case of a crisis.

Public works report

At the last committee meeting of public works, roads superintendent Ron Cooper presented a verbal report. He explained that ditching is presently in progress on Monkhouse Road, a continuation of the work that was begun the year before. The first load of blocks has arrived for the marina wall with work commencing.

He said that all seasonal parks have been closed and docks have been removed and that following the heavy rainfall earlier this month, the roads appear to be in good shape.

 Applications for consent

Council passed two applications for consent from the Manitoulin Planning Board: One for Richard Shield for Lot 18-19, Concession 6 and Lot 18-20, Concession 5 in the Township of Sheguiandah and Calvin Sagle, Part Lot 6, Concession 16 in Assiginack. Council passed both applications.

Farewell to David Smith

With regret, council accepted a letter of resignation from David Smith from the Assiginack Museum board after 40 years of service, 38 of them as board chair.

“I feel that it is time for new leadership as I have run out of ideas,” he writes. “As well, I am away all winter when planning should be occurring for the next season. I have certainly enjoyed my time on the board and am proud of the many accomplishments that have taken place, especially the addition to the museum. During the last 40 years, the museum has always taken a leadership role in the community and has always managed to operate in the black.”

Council supports Christmas Madness

Council received a letter from Lisa Hallaert of the Queen Street General Store and Café regarding the Manitowaning Christmas Madness shopping event on November 30. As well as late night shopping, a Christmas parade of lights will be held along Queen Street to Arthur Street, ending on Napier Street.

Councillor Les Fields suggested the municipality enter some town equipment decorated with lights.