The November 24 virtual meeting of council began with a moment of silence for fallen Ontario Provincial Police constable Marc Hovingh.
A public portion of the meeting was held for two zoning bylaw applications. First up was a request for a zoning change by Patrick Glover for his 27 Worthington Street property (the former fire hall). Mr. Glover requested that the zoning be changed from industrial to general commercial, which was a condition of sale when the property was purchased from the municipality. There were no speakers, either in favour or opposition, to the change. Council approved the zoning change.
Justin and Kerrene Tilson also had a site-specific zoning amendment request to create up to four rental camping units within the existing shoreline residential zoning which will provide for Airbnb spaces and, with it, local employment.
CAO Dave Williamson told council that the Ministry of Transportation did not see an issue with what could be an increase in traffic exiting from Highway 540 into the Tilson property.
Councillor Barb Baker asked about washroom facilities for the rental units, to which Mr. Tilson replied that customers would be welcome to use the Tilson home. Councillor Laurie Cook questioned whether that is a good solution.
Mr. Tilson agreed that it was not a perfect solution, but said it was what they could offer at this point in time. Mr. Williamson noted that the Tilsons had many options at their disposal in this regard, such as port-a-potty rentals or outhouses.
The motion to approve the site-specific bylaw was approved.
Council reviewed its strategic plan as set out last year with an eye to removing things from the list or adding new items.
Councillors had a number of suggestions, including: a review of pending sidewalks and hard-topping; a water levels study; options for water treatment plant filtration system replacement; working with Immigration Canada to attract new Canadians to the municipality; working with local businesses to see the installation of an electric vehicle charger; more bike-friendly initiatives; composting at the landfill; and attracting a car rental company to the municipality.
Fire Chief Duane Deschamps was not available for the virtual meeting of November 17, but supplied a report which showed the fire department responded to four calls for service between October 22 and November 11: A chimney fire in Rockville on October 22, a single vehicle collision at Highway 6 in Sheguiandah on October 25, a bush fire on Highway 6 on November 2 and a lift assist in Little Current on November 10.
The public works report was delivered by Ed Smith, lead hand for the Little Current section of public works.
Mr. Smith reported that regular maintenance is occurring when required, as is grading and patching. Entrance and shoulder repairs are also being done as required.
The final project in the Northeast Town’s busy year-of-the-project is the lagoon expansion, which is nearing completion by contractor Algoma Bio Septic.
Mr. Smith also reported that operations are going well and that the equipment is being prepared for the winter season.
Manager of community services Reid Taylor reported that the ice users’ schedule is at full capacity (Skate Canada Manitoulin, Manitoulin Panthers, Little Current Howland Minor Hockey Association) and that adult recreational hockey has also begun at the rec centre. Students are taking advantage of ice time rentals as well.
In terms of the municipality’s outdoor assets, Mr. Taylor told council that all buildings have been closed, winterized and are being monitored. The town docks have been moved to safe harbour at Spider Bay Marina for the winter with some repairs to complete on the docks as weather allows.
As for events, Mr. Taylor, reporting on behalf of events coordinator Lisa Hallaert, spoke of the success of the downtown Little Current trick or treating event on Halloween. He also made reference to the Northeast Town’s new Christmas website, christmasinnemi.ca and the upcoming Christmas events being hosted by the municipality, such as the December 5 Santa Claus parade and in-person workshops.
Mr. Taylor also reported that the curling club would not be putting in ice this year.
Councillor Bill Koehler asked who was responsible for hockey groups sticking to the “one child, one parent” rule. Mr. Taylor responded that it was the job of the organization but that there was some wiggle room as the total number allowed in the arena is 50.
The building control report showed that from January 1 to November 6, the municipality has issued 84 permits and 14 permit renewals. The breakdown is as follows: residential, new, 20 permits, $46,632; garages and accessory buildings, new, 27 permits, $8,728; residential, additions and renovations, 14 permits, $6,410; multi-residential, new; one permit, $7,860; seasonal dwellings, new, six permits, $12,765; seasonal dwellings, additions and renovations, four permits, $1,618; demolition/moving, five permits, $250; and permit renewals, 14, $700. The total revenue generated from permits to date is $105,330. (This report period has a construction value of $1,370,000 and a permit value of $18,190. The total value of construction to date is $10,995,000 with a total building permit revenue of $105,330.)
“This certainly is an exceptional year,” said CAO Dave Williamson.
Council received a letter from Little Current resident Brenda Ritchie, requesting the placement of a streetlight at the corner of Shaftesbury Street and Harbour View Road as well as a streetlight at Highway 6 and the entrance to Highway 6 Service Centre.
She also suggested the municipality look into the possibility of a four-way stop at Harbour View Road and Highway 6 as well as at Highway 540 and Cockburn Street.
Mr. Williamson reminded council that there is a list of streetlight requests, some of which have been on there for years and suggested adding Ms. Ritchie’s requests to the list then having council review and prioritize it.
As for the four-way stops, “There is no valid reason why you would want to impede the traffic at either of those locations,” the CAO said.
Councillor Al Boyd agreed and said he would not support four-way stops.
Councillor Koehler queried why the streetlights along the Highway 6 portion of the recreation centre parking lot are facing the parking lot instead of the road. Mr. Williamson said staff would investigate.
Vandalism on the rise
Mayor Al MacNevin broke the news to council that there has been yet more vandalism in the Northeast Town, this time to the ‘Welcome to Little Current’ digital sign located near the welcome centre. A vandal(s) has removed some of the lettering. Unfortunately, single letters cannot be replaced, the entirety of the wording needs to be replaced to the tune of $3,700. This, the CAO said, brings the cost this year of vandalism to the municipal assets in the municipality to $5,000.