Northeast Town Council Notes

Local dementia strategy

Lorraine LeBlanc, executive director of the Sudbury, Manitoulin and North Bay and Districts Alzheimer Society, made a deputation to council discussing the new Little Current office, creating a seniors with dementia friendly community and the organization’s dementia care strategy.

Council approves planning requests

The Northeast Town council reviewed two applications for consent, file #B06-15, applied for by Mary Ellen Anglin, and file #B02-15, applied for by Susan Carol Allan. Council carried a motion to have staff contact the Manitoulin Planning Board and relay that they had “no comments or concerns” regarding the applications.

Airport agreement

Councillor Bill Koehler suggested that council review the Northeast Town’s Manitoulin East Municipal Airport agreement with Assiginack.

“The original agreement was between Little Current, Howland and Assiginack with each paying one-third,” said Councillor Koehler. “After amalgamation (between Little Current and Howland to form the Northeast Town) we started paying two-thirds and Assiginack still pays one-third. I think it is unfair we are paying more—we should be equal partners. I think the original agreement is void and we need to think about renegotiating.”

“When we amalgamated, all agreements in place just became part of the new municipality,” explained Mayor Al MacNevin. “We would have to go to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) if we wanted to change anything, but I believe the agreement just carries forward. We also have two-thirds the assets and I’m not sure Assiginack is going to take us wanting to change the agreement lightly—we all signed the agreement and it is all still in place.”

Councillor Koehler suggested that council have a lawyer review the agreement to see if it was “still binding.”

“If we find out that it’s binding then fine, that can be the end of it,” continued Councillor Koehler.

“If we hadn’t amalgamated it would still be one-third, one-third and one-third,” said Councillor Marcel Gauthier, “but now that we are Little Current and Howland we pay two-thirds. To me nothing has changed. It makes sense. The only way something would have changed is if one group had dropped out.”

Councillor Melissa Peters said she would support the agreement being sent to a lawyer if it would give other councillors peace of mind.

“I’m not interested in wasting money on this,” said Councillor Mike Erskine. “We know the agreement is binding—we have other agreements that are prior to amalgamation that are valid. This isn’t anything new.”

In a recorded vote, Councillors Koehler and Peters voted in favour of sending the airport agreement between the Northeast Town and Assiginack to a lawyer for review, while Councillors Erskine, Gauthier, Dawn Orr, Paul Skippen, Bruce Wood and Mayor MacNevin voted against the motion. The motion was defeated.

Council supports MMA resolution for high school cross walk

The Northeast Town council reviewed a resolution from the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) supporting an initiative from the Manitoulin Secondary School Native Studies and Language Class to have signage for a school zone and crosswalk with an amber light for all directions at the intersections of Highways 551 and 540.

Council carried a motion to support the MMA resolution.

Town to welcome ice cream cart this summer

Council approved a request from Mike Varey and Paula Dailey to operate a mobile vendor cart (ice cream and frozen treat bike cart) this summer (based on the condition that they obtain a vendor permit). The pair explained that the cart would create employment for two to three students this summer.

Sewer infiltration continues to plague town

Town CAO Dave Williamson reviewed the annual Little Current lagoon operating report with council. He explained that despite smoking the sewer lines last year, there were still unidentified sewer infiltration problems due to homeowners in the municipality pumping their sump pumps into the sewage system and/or eavestroughs that were resulting in increased flows exceeding limits.

Council accepted the report as presented and directed staff to hire an engineer to explore infiltration identification and prevention options.

Fire Department report

Northeast Town Fire Department Chief Darren Bailey presented the March fire report to council. Chief Bailey noted that the department had responded to a motor vehicle accident on Indian Mountain Road on March 2, a motor vehicle accident on Highway 6 north and an ice rescue call off Mackie Bay Road on March 13.

“We are servicing forestry pumps, getting ready for the potential grass fire season and all other equipment is in good working order,” noted Chief Bailey.

Community services and public works reports

Reid Taylor reviewed the community services report with council. He said that the ice is being used at the recreation centre and is being maintained by staff.

“The Skate Canada Manitoulin ice show was very well attended and went well,” Mr. Taylor said. “The Northern Ontario Hockey Association Tournament of Champions also went well.”

He listed the March Break activities, which included a family hockey game, public skates, pick up hockey, arm and finger knitting and badminton.

Mr. Taylor said that there were upcoming events at the recreation centre such as Skate Canada Manitoulin Island Skate on March 27, 28, 29, Manitoulin Panther tryouts April 13-17, a wedding fundraiser on April 4 and a volunteer appreciation event on April 15 at 7 pm.

He noted that the ice season had been extended until April 17 and that there were user groups who had committed to renting the ice to cover the extension.

“Plans for the parks, marina and building openings are being prepared,” continued Mr. Taylor, “and the outdoor skating rink and Sisson Park is closed and finished for the season due to the warm weather.”

For pubic works, Gary May reported that winter operations were still under way and that the half load road signs were in place. He said that staff were busy preparing for spring runoff and thawing culverts as needed.

Building controls and bylaw enforcement report

Mitch Varey informed council that “open permits from past building seasons are being kept up and inspections are taking place when called for.”

“We currently have four permits out in 2015, with a couple others pending,” he noted.

He told council that he had been performing regular checks for overnight parking and other parking violations.

A problem that had been brought to the town’s attention was parking issues on Blake Street.

“A complaint was made that there is too much congestion and it is causing a safety issue with school drop off and pick up.”

He suggested that ‘no parking’ signs be erected within a certain area of the gate opening from 8:30 am to 3 pm, that extending parking towards Highway 6 be added and/or that parking on the north side of Blake Street be prohibited.

Council directed town staff to work with the school to help resolve the problem.

Town prepares for Toronto 2015 Torch Relay event in Little Current

Town staff presented council with a plan for the event focussed around the Toronto2015 Pan Am Torch Relay stop in Little Current on June 5.

“In partnership with the TO2015 Torch Run, we would like to host a free one hour Crystal Shawanda concert in downtown Little Current,” explained a report from staff. “In addition to the concert, food vendors will be contacted to set up on Main Street as the event will take place around dinner time.”

Mr. Williamson added that they were also working with Island schools to organize mini Pan Am Games, with prizes being handed out as part of the downtown event.

“This is an opportunity to really showcase the Northeast Town and Manitoulin as a whole,” said Mr. Williamson. “With big names like Crystal Shawanda and our torch carrier artist Ivan Wheale, we can attract some major news outlets and visitors and really kick off the summer and tourist season.”

He also explained that the $4,600 to hire and set up the performance space for Crystal Shawanda would not come at any additional costs to taxpayers, as the $4,600 would come from the events, economic development and downtown enhancement budgets.

Councillor Koehler questioned the amount of money it would cost to hire Crystal Shawanda and reminded council of the tough budget process they just finished.

“When we first committed to hosting a relay stop we talked about the major economic spin offs,” said Mayor MacNevin. “This is an opportunity to bring people here to our municipality and bring tourists to the Island. We put money in the event and economic development budget so that staff can great things like this. If the money wasn’t going to this event, it would be another. This is an important event that we have the chance to be a part of. I support this whole heartedly.”

Councillor Erskine added his support, agreeing with Mayor MacNevin that this was “a great idea.”

Councillor Koehler questioned if staff would be looking for additional partners to help offset the costs.

Mr. Williamson explained that staff would be, but that at the end of the day, they were looking for council’s support in case they were unable to secure partners.

The community services and public works committee made a recommendation to council to support the concept and associated costs.

Committee recommended four percent water increase to council

Mr. Williamson reviewed the proposed 2015 water rates for both Little Current and Sheguiandah.

Staff recommended a four percent increase (over last year), which could mean an annual increase of $43.37 for Sheguiandah water rates and $14.65 for Little Current water rates, reminding council that Little Current was lower as it has 700 users opposed to Sheguiandah, which only has 80 users.

Councillor Paul Skippen suggested that council look at increasing Little Current’s water rates to increase reserves.

Mr. Williamson responded to inquiries that the Little Current water reserve account balance was $632,000.

Councillor Melissa Peters felt both reserves were in need of more funds and suggested a five percent increase instead of four percent. No one seconded the motion.

The community services and public works committee made a recommendation to council for a four percent increase for the proposed water rates for 2015.

A public meeting will be held regarding the proposed water rates increase on Tuesday, April 21.