NEMI Town mayor suggests quitting Planning Board

LITTLE CURRENT—After reviewing the Manitoulin Planning Board’s (MPB) 2013 budget and the municipal contributions for next year, the Northeast Town council directed town staff to investigate separating from the Planning Board.

“I’ve had it with this planning board!” exclaimed Northeast Town Mayor Joe Chapman when reviewing the MPB budget at a council meeting earlier this month. “We are paying exorbitant amounts of money for them to screw stuff up. I would like to see someone make a motion to get out of the Planning Board because this is ridiculous.”

Town CAO Dave Williamson explained that the MPB budget increase was due to two factors. The first, a result of an increase in rent for the MPB office in Gore Bay.

“The budget increase is a direct result in the lease increase from Canada Post,” said Mr. Williamson.

In a letter explaining the estimated requisition for funding for 2013 from the Planning Board to council, Elva Carter, the secretary and treasurer of the board, stated that, “While the board and ultimately the municipalities have benefited from a very favourable lease with Canada Post for a number of years, that has changed.”

“Following negotiations with Canada Post, the annual rent has been increased from $4,708 to $11,475 annually,” continued Ms. Carter. “The lease includes a three percent increase annually over the next five years. This increase has been considered in line or below the going market. Canada Post had proposed to increase the rent to $15,000 annually.”

In addition to the rent increase for the MPB, Mr. Williamson explained that the Planning Board had also hired a geographic information system (GIS) technician for the Official Plan, the cost of which had been covered though funding previously, but would have to be paid for by the municipalities.

Based on the Northeast Town’s 2011 tax base assessment of $396,707,800, the municipality’s estimated 2013 share for the MPB will be 37,723.20, or 32.52 percent of the municipal contribution.

“What I want to know is why we pay the lion’s share towards the board and the office is in Gore Bay?” questioned the mayor. “I think a funding model similar to the Espanola’s Planning Board would be a better idea.”

Councillor Al MacNevin did not agree with all of the mayor’s statements, but did state that he would support the staff investigating if there would be a cost benefit from leaving the MPB.

Council agreed and directed town staff to look into the municipality’s options concerning planning.

The Expositor spoke with Ms. Carter regarding council’s discussion and the possible effects that the Northeast Town leaving could have on the board.

“If the municipality wanted to request removal from the board, they would have to get approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs,” explained Ms. Carter. “Since 1979, the ministry has delegated all authority for planning from validation of title and sale to the planning board.”

When asked further questions regarding the Northeast Town’s possible removal from the board, Ms. Carter had “no comment.”

Town staff will report their findings regarding the issue to the Northeast council in the New Year.

Robin Burridge