Northeast Town Council Notes

Bylaw amendments for McGregor Bay properties

The Northeast Town council carried two motions passing bylaw No 2015-07, for the purpose of amending zoning bylaw 202-32 to regulate the use of land in the McGregor Bay area from hazard to rural zoning, Island T.P 1676, parcel 938, and bylaw No 2015-08, for the purpose of amending zoning bylaw 202-32 to regulate the use of land in the McGregor Bay area from hazard to rural zoning, Island T.P. 2218, parcel 352.

The zoning change will allow an individual to purchase the property from the current landowner and upgrade the existing cottage and accessory buildings for the purpose of a family camp.


Physician recruitment program

Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) CEO Derek Graham made a deputation to council last Tuesday upon council’s request to learn more about the new physician recruitment program.

“We are attempting to take physician recruitment to a new level,” explained Mr. Graham. “Both Little Current and Mindemoya are having problems recruiting and filling two roles and their efforts have not been sufficient. There are numerous openings across Ontario, with communities trying to draw young physicians.”

He explained that the MHC has partnered with physician clinics in Mindemoya, Little Current, Gore Bay and Manitowaning, as well as the Island’s three Family Health Teams (FHT) (the Northeastern FHT, Manitoulin Central FHT and the Assiginack FHT) and Noojmowin Teg Health Centre to create a physician recruitment committee for Manitoulin.

Mr. Graham added that the Manitoulin physician recruitment committee will be partnering with similar committees on the North Shore and Blind River, which already have a recruitment officer in place.

“They currently have a recruitment officer in place, but that individual will be retiring this summer,” Mr. Graham told council. “Our plan is to hire a new recruiter who will train with the current individual. We have also been successful in feed money for training the new recruiter through the Trillium Foundation, which will flow through Blind River.”

The committee has begun reaching out across the Island to potential stakeholder groups, such as municipalities, looking for funding, support and community representatives to sit on the committee.

Council asked what would be required of them if they agreed to be a part of the committee. Mr. Graham responded that the committee wished to have a representative from council sit on the committee, as well as continuing their current $5,000 incentive to new physicians to the community, as well as a $6,000 contribution to fund the program.

A proposed budget for the recruitment program shows the MHC contributing $7,000 of the $30,000 budget, the Township of Assiginack contributing $3,000, the Northeast Town contributing $6,000, Central Manitoulin contributing $6,000, the Town of Gore Bay contributing $3,000 and other sources of revenue, $5,000.

Council agreed that the current physician vacancies were a problem for the Northeast Town and told Mr. Graham that they would consider the proposal.

“The soonest we would be able to proceed is at our February 5 meeting,” concluded Mayor MacNevin, “but we will continue discussing this at our next budget meeting on Thursday.”

At Thursday’s budget meeting council discussed that if they were to go forward with the proposal, the $6,000 Northeast Town contribution should come out of the municipality’s donation budget.


FREC ME EDM Festival and Country Fest requests

FREC ME EDM Festival and Manitoulin Country Fest organizers Craig and Kelly Timmermans made a deputation to council last Tuesday.

They informed council that they had changed the dates of the EDM Festival to July 10 and 11, as to not compete with similar festivals as they had last year.

They requested that council designate the event as one of municipal significance and requested the placement of two NIM buckets on site (one in the camping area) and the other inside the venue area.

“We will pay for these buckets,” a written request from the couple notes. “Should mayor and council determine appropriate, we would appreciate a donation back in a sum comparable to the cost of the NIM buckets to help offset costs.”

Regarding Manitoulin Country Fest, Mr. and Ms. Timmermans requested that the event also be designated of municipal significance and that the week from Tuesday, August 4 to August 9 be declared ‘Manitoulin Country Fest Week’.

They also requested three NIM bins and a donation from council back in the sum “comparable to the cost of the NIM buckets to help offset costs,” as well as 25 tables, 200 chairs from the Northeast Town recreation centre for use for the duration of the weekend, “and again would appreciate a donation back in a sum comparable to the cost of the tables and chairs to help offset costs.”

“Councillor Koehler had mentioned last year when we requested the extended hours for the EDM (main stage until 1 pm) that we might just look at an extension for all the events we planned,” states the letter to council from the Timmermans. “If mayor and council would be so kind as to grant that extension until 1 am for any future events that would be appreciated. It saves us and council time dealing with that kind of request down the road. As a reminder, we are licenced for three multi-day events, 20 single day events and five outdoor movie theatres. The agreement currently contemplates a noise curfew at 11:30 pm with no more than 80Db at Harbour View Road after that time. The EDM would exceed that. It is not likely the beer tent music would exceed that limit at Country Fest. We will continue to make every effort to ensure the drive-ins do not exceed that amount. Should we proceed with a fall festival, there may be some entertainment on the main stage which would likely end around the 11 pm mark.”

Council said that they would consider the Timmermans’ requests at their next council meeting on February 3.


Little Current Drinking Water System report

The Northeast Town council reviewed and accepted the Little Current Drinking Water System Annual Inspection Report for 2014.


Council accepts recycling contactor tender

The Municipal Waste and Recycling Consultants, the company that currently provides recycling services for the Northeast Town, submitted a quote to continue providing services for the municipality. The total annual cost was $85,017.47 including HST. Council accepted the tender, which was locked in for the next four years of council.

“They do a good job,” commented Councillor Koehler.

“I have heard no complaints about the company,” added Councillor Marcel Gauthier. “And it is great that they are willing to lock in this price for the next four years.”


Lions Club remainder of donation request

At the last Northeast Town council meeting of 2014, council carried a motion to donate a portion of the requested $200 to the Little Current Lions Club’s Winterfest hockey tournament. At the time they weren’t able to donate the full $200, as there was only $72 left in the donations budget.

At least week’s council meeting, council carried a motion to donate the remaining $127.12, to top up council’s donation to the Lions to the requested $200.

Council also carried a motion to donate $200 to Ride Manitoulin 2015.


Dedication plaque denied

Council reviewed a request from Nancy Boyne, the daughter of the late James Callaghan, a past town foreman, asking that a memorial plaque be “affixed to the new and upcoming municipal garage, commemorating his years of dedication and service.”

“Jim worked for the town for many years and retired achieving great respect and rapport with fellow workers and staff,” wrote Ms. Boyne in her request. “The garage was very important to him as he spent a lot of time tweaking, fixing, planning and working and of course good conversation with his staff.”

“I remember Jim and he did a great job,” said Councillor Dawn Orr. “He was an awesome employee, but we have to be careful because we have had a lot of great employees and we can’t just recognize one.”

“I agree,” added Councillor Gauthier. “We have a lot of great town employees at the complex, the library and town office, past and present.”

Mayor MacNevin agreed saying that it was difficult to honour just one person. Council directed staff to contact Ms. Boyne and explain that they would be unable to fulfill her request.


Committee members appointment

Mayor MacNevin said that the town had been lucky with its committees, with many dedicated members wishing to return to committees, as well as new members wishing to join.

Council carried a motion to donate the following individuals to the assigned committees: Wayne Orr, Ruth Ann Bastert, Patrick Julig, Brenda Caloyannis and Sandy McGillivray to the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah; Marian Barnett, Rosemary Burnett, Maureen Armstrong, Ellinor Leonard, Dorothy Archinson and Barbara Baker to the Little Current Public Library; Irene Callaghan, Wendy Gauthier, Joanne Pilon and Jim McMillan to the Community Services Advisory Committee; and Wayne Orr, Floyd Lockyer and Rob Norris to the Citizens Liaison Committee.


Council reduces 2015 operating budget

Earlier this month, the Northeast Town council carried a motion requesting that town staff revisit the proposed 2015 operating budget to look for ways to reduce the 5.76 percent increase over last year. Staff previously explained that the operating budget was as low as they could make it, while still delivering the same level of service in the municipality.

As per council’s request, staff revisited the operating budget and brought back a number of suggestions to council to reduce the operating budget.

The suggestions included no granting the requested increase to the library, not granting the increase to the airport, eliminating Ward 2 recycling pickup, reducing plowing in rural areas, eliminating the fire hall in Sheguiandah, reducing the number of crossing guards to the 2013 staff levels, reducing contracted snow removal and hoping that the Manitoulin Centennial Manor reduced its levy from a three percent increase to a two percent increase.

After a great deal of debate amongst council, no motions were carried to adopt any of the suggested reductions, however council did learn that the Manor levy had been reduced to two percent, shaving $1,007 off the operating budget. Also the District Services Board reduced its municipal contributions by $38,260, bringing the operating budget down to 4.71 percent.

Councillor Laurie Cook put a motion on the table for the budget to be sent back again for staff to look for further reductions, however the motion was defeated.


Fire Department report

Northeast Town Fire Department Chief Darren Bailey reviewed January’s department report with council.

Chief Bailey reported that there had been two calls for service, the first a carbon monoxide call on December 30, 2014 on Highway 6, and another carbon monoxide call on Highway 540 on January 9.

He also reported that the apparatus and equipment was in good working order and the new NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) training was underway.


Community services and public works reports

Reid Taylor reported that the ice at the recreation centre was being used regularly and was being maintained and that staff were busy completing maintenance tasks daily.

He summarized events coming up at the recreation centre including the Lions Winterfest Weekend from January 30-Febuary 1, a PA day event February 2 with free pickup hockey and public skating and a free family skate on Family Day on February 16.

“The marina, parks and outdoor areas are being monitored over the winter and the outdoor skating at the Sisson Park rink is open and being maintained.”

Gary May reported to council that winter snow and ice control is being performed by public works staff on the roads. He also noted that landfill operations were going well and that staff were in the final stages of moving into the new garage.

“We are working on quotes for projects this year and equipment maintenance and repairs are being done as required,” concluded Mr. May.


Building controls and bylaw report

Mitch Varey presented the building controls and bylaw report to council. He noted that “to date the building controls department has issued 68 building/demolition permits” and that the total estimated value of these projects is $3,662,435, including the new municipal garage.

As for bylaw enforcement, regular checks for overnight parking and other parking violations have been monitored regularly and that no other bylaw violations have been brought to the town’s attention.

Mr. Varey was also pleased to report that Mike Wabano has started a towing service out of Wikwemikong and will be the “go to” service (for issues like parking) for the remainder of the winter months.