Fire department report
Northeast Town Fire Department Chief Darren Bailey presented council with the January department report. He said there were four calls to service to date so far this year. The calls included a carbon monoxide call to Blake Street on January 13, an electrical fire in Sheguiandah First Nation on January 18, a chimney fire on North Channel Drive on January 20 and a chimney fire on Highway 6 south on February 8. Fire Chief Bailey also noted that the fire trucks and equipment are in good working order.
Community services and public works
Reid Taylor reviewed the community services report. He said that the ice schedule is still busy at the recreation centre and that staff are busy prepping for upcoming events. “They are also completing maintenance, repair and painting tasks,” said Mr. Taylor. “The adult craft days have gone well and will continue until the end of April and the children’s craft days have also been well attended and will continue until April.”
Mr. Taylor said that this month at the recreation centre the Skate Canada programs will continue, the Manitoulin Panthers playoffs will occur, along with the Manitoulin Secondary Schools boys playoffs and Little Current Howland Minor Hockey. He noted that the ballet, martial arts and fitness programs are also going well.
“The Manitoulin Panthers will be hosting the Northern Ontario Hockey Association Tournament of Champions on March 10 to 12,” said Mr. Taylor.
He said there were children’s activities planned for March 13 to 17 and a fundraising event on March 18.
Coming soon is a ‘Soup and Tomatoes’ exercise program for seniors.
In terms of the parks and marina, he said that all the marina building and docks are continuing to be monitored and preparations for spring opening of marinas and buildings are being planned. “Renewals will be sent out for seasonal slip rentals and marina rates are to be set,” Mr. Taylor said.
He listed upcoming community events including an Old Fashioned Family Fun Day at the museum in Sheguiandah on Saturday, March 4 and a Spring Tea and Sale at the museum on Saturday, March 25.
Mr. Reid also reviewed the recommendations for the Port of Little Current and Spider Bay Marina dockage, ramping and service rate increases for 2017. He noted that the fees reflect a two percent increase for anything that uses hydro. The committee made a recommendation to council to accept the proposed rates for 2017.
Town CAO Dave Williamson presented the public works report, noting that the manager of public works, Gary May, was busy dealing with a water main break.
He said that snow removal is underway on the connecting link and other areas as needed. In terms of water and sewer, Mr. Williamson explained that the second pump is out for repair at the main lift station and that a replacement generator is on order for the lift station with a temporary portable wired in.
Mr. Williamson also noted that public works staff have been watching for a second trackless as the rear differential went out on the town’s recently.
The community services and public works committee reviewed a used trackless that Mr. May had found for sale for $14,900. He said that it could be purchased using funds left in a stabilization reserves that weren’t being used plus funds from the public works department.
There were mixed opinions from the councillors regarding the purchase, but in the end a motion was carried recommending to council that the trackless be purchased.
Council’s representative on the Little Current Public Library board, Laurie Cook, told council that the board had selected a new librarian and made an offer to the individual.
She also said that two of the library’s employees had been “holding down the fort” since the resignation of the last librarian and that the board had opted to give the two employees a temporary $3 an hour increase to their wages while they had been assuming the responsibilities of the librarian.
The Northeast Town reviewed the draft 2017 municipal budget. Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson walked council through some of the changes since staff first presented the budget including an increase in the municipal allocation to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor and a decrease in the Northeast Town’s contribution to the District Services Board. He also commended council on its due diligence going through the budget and recommended changes.
“Thanks to the efforts of council, I am very pleased to present a budget with a 1.65 percent increase to the levy,” said Mr. Williamson.
Councillor Melissa Peters said that she couldn’t support the budget as the municipality is stretched too thin, in her opinion, and the budget should include future increases.
Councillor Bill Koehler said that he also couldn’t support the budget. “Staff does a good job, but council needs to take a long, hard look at the town’s finances,” said Councillor Koehler. “Government funding is being cut back, but we can’t keep coming back to the taxpayers to pick up the extra.”
In a recorded vote, Councillor Koehler voted against approving the 2017 municipal budget, while Councillor Michael Erskine, Marcel Gauthier, Melissa Peters, Bruce Wood and Mayor Al MacNevin voted in favour of the budget.
Council discussed a deputation that was made last month about the municipality building an RV park at Spider Bay Marina.
Mr. Williamson said he spoke to RV business owners in the municipality who were opposed to the town creating an RV park.
“We have a policy to not compete with the private sector,” Mr. Williamson reminded council.
Mr. Williamson also went over some of the costs that would be associated with building a park.
Councillor Erskine said he didn’t see the benefit of the municipality competing with the private sector and noted that RV camping was already being handled by business owners in the municipality.
Councillor Gauthier said he agreed with Councillor Erskine and didn’t want to see the municipality competing with the private business owners in the municipality.
No motion was made towards the town building a RV park at Spider Bay Marina.
Council carried a motion to donate $200 to the Manitoulin Panthers. The Panthers requested funds to help host the Tournament of Champions March 10 to 12.
There will be 10 teams coming to Little Current from across Northern Ontario as part of the conference.
Council reviewed a request for a new board member for the Little Current Public Library Board.
“I have owned property in the Northeast Town since 1989 and built a home here in 2005,” said the request to council from John Royal. “I am a retired, formerly working with the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society and prior to that, with the Simcoe County Housing Authority.”
Mr. Royal noted that he was a member of the Midland Library Board in the 1980s, active in promoting the new library when he moved to Barrie and has experience on other boards.
Council carried a motion to appoint Mr. Royal to the library board.
Town Treasurer Sheryl Wilkin went through the accounts receivable for January with council. For taxes, she reported that there had been $158,975.50 made in payment for the month. For water and sewer, Ms. Wilkin said that there had been $134,176.68 made in payments for January. She added that there were 29 accounts over the $400 limit, with 24 accounts over the limit due to the recent billing and penalty added. She said two accounts had been disconnected and three account holders had made arrangements.