Northeast Town Council Notes

August 17

Fire Department report

Council heard from Fire Chief Duane Deschamps’ on the department’s calls for service. He noted that there were four calls for service between July 15 and July 29: a rescue call for Topaz Lake, which was passed on to the Ontario Provincial Police; a rescue assist from a senior citizen who had gone hiking in the heat; a call for a hand stuck in a trunk at the Cup and Saucer (called off en route); and a fire alarm on Worthington Street in Little Current.

Public Works report

Council heard from manager of public works Wayne Williamson regarding the goings on of public works. Mr. Williamson reported that staff had been working on the new Draper Street sidewalk, brushing roadsides, patching roads and have replaced a culvert on Windover Road.

Mr. Williamson reported that landfill operations are going well and that a new cell had been started.

Community Services report

Manager of Community Services Reid Taylor told council that, COVID permitting, staff will begin prepping for ice on September 7. He also noted that the new air conditioner system is nearing completion; the Manitoulin Health Centre still has the upstairs hall to use as a field hospital; and pickleball, DriveTest and Alcoholics Anonymous continue.

Councillor Michael Erskine said he’s been getting “great feedback’ on the new mobi mats at the Low Island beach.

Councillor Laurie Cook asked about geese scaring techniques, as she’s seen a lot of geese at the park. Mr. Taylor admitted to not having much success in the geese scaring department.

Building controls report

CAO Dave Williamson gave the building controls report, sharing with council that two new residential building permits and one seasonal permit have been issued since last month’s report. This report period had a construction value of $882,000 and a permit value of $11,596.

Meredith Street drain

Council received three tenders for the Meredith Street drain project: Denis Gratton Construction, $518,406.59; JI Enterprises, $672,960.45; and Belanger, $554,194.28.

Mr. Williamson explained that the municipality has been working on this drainage issue on the west end of Meredith Street since 2012.

He reminded council that the tender results came in at over double of what was budgeted for and suspects that they could be facing COVID inflation. He recommended that council not accept any of the tenders.

“We just don’t have $520,000—it’s exceedingly high,” he added. “We hadn’t anticipated that.”

Mr. Williamson said staff would contact the municipal engineers and ask for ideas as to a less expensive option where municipal manpower can be used.

Council took Mr. Williamson’s advice and did not accept any of the tenders.

Museum committee update

Councillor Cook noted the museum fundraiser cold plate dinner on August 22. She also shared that the museum had 500 visitors in the first 19 days. Other events at the museum include art shows, children’s programming and a weekly vendors market.

Councillor Barb Baker asked about the vandalism at the museum. Mr. Williamson explained that all the broken glass had been replaced with Plexiglas and that a camera has been set up on the grounds.

August 10

Planning applications

Council heard four separate planning applications at its August 10 meeting, the first from Jamie and Connie Still.

The Stills were requesting readjusted sight lines to allow for more side yard on their current residence on Blake Street West. The couple also owns the adjacent property, which is used as an income property and which also leaves the adjacent property with the appropriate frontage as per the municipal zoning bylaw.

Council approved the request with several conditions.

Council next heard from Art and Wendy Lalonde of Bay Estates who asked for a site-specific amendment to the zoning bylaw to allow for a larger accessory building, in footprint and height.

The garage the couple is wishing to build measures 111.41 square metres while the zoning bylaw allows for accessory buildings to be built to a maximum of 89 square metres. The couple said the building is intended for housing personal equipment, and not for commercial use.

CAO Dave Williamson told council that while the building size is outside of the bylaw parameters, council could consider it as the property is located on 74 acres, on a dead-end road and won’t be visible to anyone else in Bay Estates.

Councillor Bill Koehler said he believed council should approve it due its remote location and offered his support.

Councillor Erskine asked, should it be approved, what recourse the municipality had to ensure no commercial activity transpired there.

“Clearly commercial activity cannot be undertaken and if so, the bylaw enforcement officer would get involved,” Mr. Williamson responded.

Councillor Al Boyd said he worried about setting a precedent and what happens if future residents also wish to build oversize buildings.

The CAO said that each submission needs to be appreciated on their own merit.

“It is the decision of council and ratepayers; ratepayers need assurance it won’t be precedent setting and won’t take away from the current status of their community,” Councillor Dawn Orr said.

Councillor Wood said he didn’t have a problem with it, considering the vast amount of acreage involved.

“Is there going to be a visual impact on any of the neighbours?” Councillor Laurie Cook asked.

Ms. Lalonde told council there would be no visual impact on the neighbours. 

Council received three letters of opposition to the project.

A motion to approve the Lalondes’ application carried.

Next on the agenda was a zoning bylaw for Jerry Pickett, who was also seeking an amendment to build an oversized accessory building.

Mr. Pickett, whose property is on Ferguson’s Road in Howland, explained to council that he was hoping to build a shed that would house his boat, almost 223 square metres and seven metres high. He noted that his property is also located on a dead-end road and would be nowhere near the water.

Mr. Williamson noted that this she would be almost three times the allowable size, but that the road is not heavily travelled. There were no comments of concern from members of the public.

“Part of having zoning bylaws is to keep the look and feel of the area,” said Councillor Laurie Cook. “This will have quite a sizable impact. A minor variance I can understand, but this far exceeds it.”

Councillor Koehler asked if the shed would be located in the bush to which the answer was “yes.”

Councillor Cook asked for a recorded vote.

Councillor Baker, Cook, Boyd and Orr voted against the amendment while Councillors Erskine, Wood, Koehler and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour. Councillor Jim Ferguson was not present for the meeting. As a tie, the motion was defeated and the amendment did not pass.

Yet another oversized accessory building was next on the agenda, with an application from Maxime Rivard and Kimberly Knobel of Bay Estates. The couple was asking for an increase in allowable size from 89 square metres to 175 square metres to accommodate both a garage and a secondary unit. Council received seven letters in opposition to the amendment from concerned members of the Bay Estates community.

Ms. Knobel spoke on behalf of the couple, noting that the main purpose of the garage is personal use. She said the garage is seven square metres and that, should the buildings be built separately, they would be permissible under the current bylaw. She also gave council assurances that no commercial activity would transpire there.

Councillor Erskine said he couldn’t see how two buildings would change the aesthetic of the area.

“It’s tough given the amount of opposition from neighbours,” said Councillor Cook, asking about the neighbours’ sightlines.

Ms. Knobel said she didn’t believe there would be an impact.

Council approved the site-specific zoning amendment

Council mourns passing 

of George Dobbs

The flag was flown at half-staff for George Dobbs, the long-time Northeast Town employee who acted as manager of the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport from 2005. 

“He was an organized, efficient and hard-working guy,” Mayor MacNevin said. “He will be missed very much at the airport.”

Mr. Williamson called Mr. Dobbs one of the most “efficient individuals he has ever met. I’m sure George is really, really enjoying his flight.”