Northeast Town Council Notes

Manitoulin Country Fest request

Council heard from the organizers of Manitoulin Country Fest and Rockin’ the Rock, Craig and Kelly Timmermans, who announced that they would not be holding either music festival this year due to the pandemic. The Timmermans did, however, ask council for a few items that would allow them to put on a series of six drive-in concerts, including designating the North Shore Concert Series (as it is called) an event of municipal significance; supplying all available picnic tables free of charge to the event grounds; supplying two dumpsters free of charge, allowing for the placement of event signage on municipal property two days before each event; and including the concert series on the town’s LED sign, on its website and in other municipal marketing.

CAO Dave Williamson reminded council that they had budgeted $2,000 toward Country Fest and Rockin’ the Rock, which was now available for use toward this event (the cost of supplying the dumpsters as well as pickup).

Because council already promised picnic tables to the Business Improvement Area (BIA) and other outdoor locations in Little Current, Mr. Williamson said this particular request could likely not be filled.

Councillor Barb Baker said she was in agreement with all of the asks with the exception of the picnic tables as she did not think the municipality should be encouraging congregate seating at a drive-in event.

Mayor Al MacNevin explained that the Timmermans are working in concert with Public Health Sudbury and Districts and that the picnic tables could be utilized for members of the same household.

Councillor Michael Erskine said council has put significant effort into supporting other municipal businesses and thought the Timmermans should be afforded the same opportunity, agreeing with the couple’s asks. Councillor Al Boyd agreed.

A motion of support was made to fulfill the requests, but not to exceed $2,000.

Road allowance request

Council received a request from Dan Mallette, requesting permission to access the road and marine allowance to the south and east sides, respectively, of his property so that he may install an underground water pipe to draw water from Lake Manitou for his drinking supply. Mr. Williamson explained that Mr. Mallette has no shoreline access to allow for water lines.

Mr. Mallette also added that he would backfill the trench once the water line is installed.

A motion to allow Mr. Mallette to proceed with the work carried.

Museum update

Councillor Laurie Cook shared that the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah was successful in receiving two grants: one for $3,000 and the other for $10,0000 to digitize the collections and help preserve the physical collection.

Councillor Baker asked whether staff would again be split between the museum and welcome centre. Mr. Williamson said no, but the municipality has received funding for welcome centre students separately.

April 27

Decibel Coalition

Council received a request to join the Decibel Coalition at its April 13 meeting and heard a delegation from one of its board of directors, Rob Bosomworth, at its April 20 meeting. The coalition is seeking legislation to deal with what it perceives as the growing problem of excessive boat noise on inland lakes and acts as a lobby group for muffler performance standards with the goal of having a cap on boat noise at 75 decibels.

At the April 27 meeting, council passed a resolution supporting the work of the Decibel Coalition, but did not join the group, as was requested. There was no discussion on the motion.

Building control fees to rise

CAO Dave Williamson brought forward a new calculation for estimating values for building permits for review of council. Under Schedule D of Building Bylaw 98-20 as amended effective November 2013, A and B would change. Section A, dwelling units per square foot of floor space, is proposed to change from $158 to $200 and section B, two storeys or more and additions per square foot of floor space, will see a change from $132 to $200.

Mr. Williamson explained that the change is necessary because people are claiming they can build at $100 per square foot “in a market where that’s clearly not possible.”

The bylaw change will come before a public meeting before being discussed by council.

April 20

Volunteer 

Appreciation Week

Mayor Al MacNevin took a few moments to recognize the many volunteers in the Northeast Town and pay special acknowledgement to them in honour of Volunteer Appreciation Week.

Fire department report

Mr. Williamson gave the fire department report on behalf of fire chief Duane Deschamps, who was unable to attend the April 20 meeting of council.

Mr. Williamson noted that the fire department had responded to six calls for service between March 18 and April 10: a transformer explosion on Blake Street, a propane leak on Meredith Street, a grass fire on Bidwell Road, report of a bush fire at the Cup and Saucer, report of smoke on Cup and Saucer and a grass fire in Sheguiandah First Nation.

Mr. Williamson explained to council that the two reports stemming from the Cup and Saucer were false alarms. What people were seeing was dust from the nearby quarry and fog coming from Lake Manitou. While false alarms, Mr. Williamson said the department would rather respond than have to attend a bush fire.

Public works report

Manager of Public Works Wayne Williamson shared his report with council, noting that staff has been busy patching, grading and street sweeping.

He reminded council that the landfill will again be open on Sundays effective May 16 and that cleanup week will be held from May 17 to May 21.

The new backhoe and street sweeper have also arrived.

Community services

Reid Taylor, manager of community services, gave his report to council, reminding everyone that the rec centre remains closed. The municipality remains hopeful that Spider Bay Marina will be open for the May long weekend, but this is provided provincial orders are lifted by that time.

While the marina is closed, Sheguiandah and Rockville boat launches remain open.

Mayor Al MacNevin said he thought having the rural boat launches open while the Little Current marina is closed is confusing.

“The regulations are very specific,” the CAO responded. “Any operation within a marine facility must close. Sheguiandah and Rockville aren’t, so they can remain open,” noting that municipalities can create their own rules on what stays closed, though.

Building controls report

As of April 14, the municipality has issued 17 permits and two renewals. The report period has a construction value of $1,615,000 and a permit value of $19,916. The total value of construction value to date is 42,047,000.

Tenders

Council approved four tenders at its April 20 meeting.

For granular A and B gravel, the municipality received just one tender, from Mike Varey and Son Construction, in the amount of $93,873.39. Council approved the tender.

Mike Varey and Son was the sole tender for winter sand, too, in the amount of $32,860 (or $14.54/cubic metre). Council approved the tender.

There were three tenders for the surface treatment of 15.1 kilometres of road: MSO, $386,553.79; Duncor, $446,994.10; and Beamish, $347,375.56.

Mr. Williamson noted the tenders reflected an almost 10 percent per kilometre increase from last year. Staff recommended that the tender be awarded to Beamish, with council approving that tender.

Lastly, council awarded the sole bidder on the landfill cover tender to Mike Varey and Son in the amount of $23,684 (or $10.48/metre). Mr. Williamson noted that this tender is two cents below last year’s.

Site plan review

Council reviewed the site plan for a four-plex to be constructed on Vankoughnet Street East with no concerns noted.

Butterflyway Project

Council received a letter from the local Butterflyway Project Ranger, Melissa Volpini, requesting council support for her initiatives, as well as permission to start a pollinator garden at the public library. Ms. Volpini also asked for a donation that would go toward the purchase of seeds, plants, bulbs, soil and tools.

Council made a motion to donate $200 to the cause and heard from library representative Councillor Laurie Cook that the library was keen to help with this project.

Boater concerns

Council received a letter from Jim Bousquet over his concerns as a seasonal boater using the downtown docks.

“As council is aware, or well they should be, we experienced undesirable activities from local youth at the docks last summer,” Mr. Bousquet writes. “They congregated at the shower pavilion most every afternoon and evening, swimming from the docks, moving the ladder as desired and in addition to the constant abusive language, considerable vandalism was caused to municipal property. Infrequent visits from the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) had little effect on the youth nor did it result in any discipline from their parents.”

“In addition to the vandalism, this activity caused irreparable loss of tourism dollars to the municipality,” Mr. Bousquet continued. “Several boaters commented to me that they would never return to Little Current, having to listen to the profane language as they experienced with these kids.”

Mr. Bousquet explained that he asked to move to a new slip last summer, sharing his problems with poor WiFi connection and water pressure and asked that these problems all be rectified for the 2021 boating season.

Regarding Mr. Bousquet’s concerns with allegedly wayward youths, Mr. Williamson reminded council of the problems caused in the downtown area last summer, noting that police and staff were all called on several occasions and said it prudent to let the OPP manage the problem and to continue to call police when a problem occurs.

As for Mr. Bousquet’s other concerns, the CAO assured council that the water pressure and WiFi would be solved, but noted that there are times that the signal is blocked by Le Grand Heron cruise ship due to its home berth in relation to Mr. Bousquet’s boat.

Councillor Al Boyd suggested a marine watch program, similar to a neighbourhood watch program, but maintained by members of the boating community.

Mr. Williamson noted that a camera system will be installed along the downtown docks this spring.

Councillor Bill Koehler suggested charging the youths with trespassing if they refuse to leave and disobey orders. Mr. Williamson agreed.

Mayor MacNevin said the perpetrators are known but that it seemed that neither the courts, nor their families, are doing anything about it.