Northeast Town Council Notes

Howland Drain No. 3

Councillor Bill Koehler brought up to council that an area resident, Terry White, was upset that a culvert had been built on Morphets Side Road in front of his house as part of the Howland Drain No. 3 project.

“I went out there and the ditch is about two feet deep with water,” said Councillor Koehler. “Nothing is draining through the culvert.”

Town CAO Dave Williamson explained that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ministry of Environment requires sediment traps as part of drains such as the one Councillor Koehler is describing and that it was included as part of the engineered design of the ditch.

“They act as sediment traps so that everything just doesn’t wash out into the channel,” said Mr. Williamson. “They are also a fish habitat, with leaves and other matter decomposing, and then when it rains feeding food and nutrients out into larger bodies of water for fish.”

Council directed staff to contact the engineer of the drain and ask him to call Mr. White to answer any other questions he may have.

Shared service agreement 

Council reviewed a letter from Billings Township asking if the Northeast Town would enter into a shared service agreement for grading and applying calcium to the Billings section of Honora’s Lakeshore Road.

Mr. Williamson clarified with council that a section of Lakeshore Road is within the Northeast Town while the other portion is within Billings Township.

“Billings Township would appreciate if the Northeast Town would consider assisting Billings Township in maintaining our section of Honora Lakeshore Road by grading and applying calcium to the section in Billings Township at the same time that the Northeast Town is grading and applying calcium to their section,” states a letter to council from Billings. “Billings Township would be willing to enter into an agreement with the Northeast Town to cover the costs the Northeast Town incurs by assisting us.”

Council carried a motion to enter into an agreement with Billings to grade and apply calcium to the Billings section of Lakeshore Road.

Restaurant signage

Three Cows and a Cone requested approval from council to locate a lighted sign in front of the Highway 6 business.

“The size of the sign is four inches by eight inches and approximately six to seven inches high,” said Three Cows owner Phil Blake in a letter to council. “The reason for this location is that power is available here and would limit our cost. The sign will help us in our business endeavours.”

Council carried a motion to approve the new sign, subject to Ministry of Transportation approval.

Wind farm donation

Mayor Al MacNevin discussed with council the proposed donation ideas for this year from the McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm Road Use Agreement donation committee.

He reminded council that as part of the agreement, the wind farm donates $10,000 a year to community organizations, decided on by the committee and supported by council.

“Two previous donations have been made under the agreement,” said Mayor MacNevin. “The first was $10,000 to the Howland seniors for their seniors’ hall and the second was $10,000 to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor for a special patient chair and lift.”

For this year the committee proposed to donate $2,500 to the Little Current Public School to assist them with improvements to their playground area and/or the construction of a stage to better facilitate musical or artistic performances, $2,500 to the Little Current Legion to assist them with improvements to their hall that will benefit the community groups that use them for various events and $5,000 to the Manor to assist them with the replacement of a call bell system that residents can use to summon assistance.

“The committee recognizes that this would mean that the Manor is receiving a donation two years in a row, however, it also feels that this project will significantly improve the safety of the residents at the facility,” said the Mayor.

Councillor Koehler brought forward another suggestion—to donate to the Manitoulin Sea Cadets who will be travelling to Vimy Ridge in 2017 (with fundraising dollars are due in 2016).

There was a lot of debate amongst council as to how the money should be divided, with council deciding that the $2,500 going to the Legion should be divided with $1,250 going to the Legion and $1,250 going to the Sea Cadets. The rest of the funds will be donated as the council proposed.

Connecting link

Mr. Williamson explained to council that the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has contacted the Northeast Town regarding its request for the ministry to pay back the portion of work the Northeast Town did to Highway 6 (from the swing bride to the Beer Store) to finish the final phase of the Connecting Link project that the MTO started, but then cancelled the funding on.

Mr. Williamson said that the MTO realized that the portion of work the town did from the swing bridge to Simms Street is actually owned by the MTO and so the MTO will reimburse the town the $52,000.

The MTO also offered that portion of the road to the Northeast Town, but council declined, not wanting to take on the added road maintenance costs and maintaining the lights.

Draft budget

Mr. Williamson brought proposed changes to the council table at Thursday night’s Administration and Finance Committee meeting.

The changes include a share in the membership for the Island for the Great Lakes Cruiseship Coalition at $2,000, a new doctor grant for $5,000, $6,000 for support for doctor recruitment and $5,000 to Manitoulin Streams.

Mr. Williamson said that the new add ons would equal a .18 percent increase to the amount raised through taxes over last year, equaling a 5.53 percent increase over last years.

Councillor Cook requested that the $5,000 to Manitoulin Streams be removed from the proposed new line items for the budget.

A motion was made but was defeated. A motion was carried, recommending to council to add the proposed line items to the budget, with the exception of the $5,000 for the new doctor grant.

A second motion was carried to recommend to council that $5,000 be taken from the working capital reserve account for the doctor recruitment program for 2016.

Upgrade to fire department radios

Council reviewed the costs associated with updating the Northeast Town Fire Department’s radio system from analog to digital.

The department originally proposed purchasing the equipment in phases with the first being next year from their department budget. Council felt that it would be better to do the changes all at once and as soon as possible and requested staff to look into the cost.

Mr. Williamson brought the costs to committee, which totals $15,861.81.

The committee recommended to council “the withdrawal of $10,000 from the working capital reserve account for the purchase of a digital radio system for the Northeast Town Fire Department and further that council authorizes the balance of the purchase price be paid from the unutilized funds set aside for the Fire Department turnout gear in the 2015 capital budget.”

Accounts Receivable

Town treasurer Sheryl Wilkin reviewed the accounts receivable for taxes and sewer and water with the Administration and Finance Committee.

For taxes, Ms. Wilkin said there were $131,447.32 made in payments in October. Mr. Williamson noted that there were currently 12 properties in registration (for not paying taxes), the highest number in recent history within the municipality.

“The biggest advice we can give people is to call the town and communicate with us,” said Mr. Williamson. “If someone needs help we can work with them to work out a payment plan or come up with a solution.”

For water and sewer, Ms. Wilkin said there was $207,423.87 billed in October, and $148,337.11 in payments. She also reported that there were 35 accounts over the $500 limit and that of the 35, four disconnected, two were due to penalty applied for October and 29 were due to the recent billing-due date on October 31.

Bylaws

Mr. Williamson told the committee that the town clerk was going through the municipal bylaws to ensure that they were up to date. Several were brought to the committee for changes, mostly to update legislation.

The committee recommended changes to council to update bylaw 2004-38, procedures for hiring employees; bylaw 2007-08, fence viewers and valuer of livestock appointments; bylaw 2007-48, accountability and transparency policy; and bylaw 98-21, hawkers and peddlers.

In addition to updating legislation in the bylaws, committee also recommended an increase to the fence viewers and valuer of livestock fee from $40 ($30 is reimbursed to the town from OMAFRA) to $90 as they felt the current fee wasn’t sufficient.