Open houses set on proposed composting sites
Springwater News September 10 2015
Simcoe County Waste Management
To avoid the development of more landfill sites, the County has been exploring various ways of keeping materials out of the waste stream and at the same time reduce the cost of waste management. They have undertaken studies and have had successful outcomes from recycling and composting activities at some of the existing transfer sites. County Council have approved the development of a Materials Management Facility (MMF) and a Organics Processing Facility (OPF). They investigated multiple sites and have narrowed down the list with 5 of the locations being in Springwater, mainly on County-owned land. There will be 3 open houses and information sessions for you to become better informed. Sessions will be held at the Simcoe County Museum on October 6th, Elmvale Arena on October 15th and at the Hillsdale Community Centre on Oct 26th. There will be two sessions each of these days from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
AMO Conference-Niagara Falls
Two weeks ago I attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Niagara Falls. The sessions were quite informative and the conference allows elected officials to stay on top of new ways of thinking, new technology and stay connected with the higher levels of government. I am also pleased that we had a higher level of engagement from our local Council. Councillors Hanna, Coughlin, Ritchie along with Deputy Mayor Allen and I were in attendance.
This is a growing concept in every municipality whereby we need to use local resources in a more effective way. We need to get away from the silo mentality, where the municipality does one thing, the school board does another and the local community groups do something else but all serving the same user. We have started this in Elmvale by having the school use parts of the arena and library for education purposes and the township using school yards for recreation. This avoids a lot of duplication of cost and we know there is only one taxpayer. The key challenge is integrated planning from the various stakeholders. Better communication and constant dialogue with all stakeholders will resolve that issue. Local Planning must identify the particular needs of our community and we must move away from the template model, which has been a recent trend, as the needs for each community is quite different.
Integrity Commissioner and Ombudsman
A number of municipalities have established Integrity Commissioners and local Ombudsman. These appointees typically deal with minor issues such as Councillor conduct and resident’s complaints that, at times, get lost in the bureaucracy of government. Wasaga Beach has just implemented an Integrity Commissioner and we will monitor that closely and see how it works. Currently Springwater has a Procedural Bylaw that dictates how Council conducts itself while in meetings. Some municipalities have a code of conduct which addresses action outside of council meetings. I think the antics of Rob Ford illustrates that it is difficult to effectively control people in their personal lives even with a Code of Conduct. I question whether personal actions should be a concern provided the elected official is performing their function. As we saw with Ford the Code was used to do a lot of witch hunting which wasted thousands of dollars, distracted council and achieved very little.
Premier Wynne and Minister Addresses
There were a number of sessions by the Premier and some senior Ministers throughout the program. They all purported to support municipalities and all focused on their key areas such as infrastructure, transportation and program funding. There were no new initiatives discussed and according to some information that was shared if all municipalities were to restore their crumbling infrastructure, it could be a compounded increase in local tax rates of about 8% per annum for the next 10 years. We obviously need to address this shortfall. My view is that the province needs to focus on repair and refurbishment and avoid promoting vehicle based transportation by their investment of billions in new highways that will have an unsupportable legacy cost.
Federal Gas Tax Funding
One of the more effective reinvestments has been the use of Federal Gas Tax at the local level. There are a number of projects that are eligible and this allows local municipalities to invest in projects that may have been delayed or put off for years. Springwater is undertaking street light replacement and upgrades with the installation of LED lighting over the next number of years. Part of the funding for this is coming from the Gas Tax which is based on a per capita rate. I would like to see the formula adjusted to reflect the fact that most Springwater workers commute to their jobs which results in a higher per capita use of fuel. In my view I would like to see higher per capita funding for Springwater.
There was a good information session on the use of Ranked Balloting which the Province will permit in the next municipal election in 2018. Instead of just checking one candidates name, you would rank a first, second and third choice, depending on the number of candidates for a position. It works well where there are multiple candidates for a position and there appears to be no overwhelming front runner. For example, if there were 10, a candidate could theoretically win with about 11 or 12% of the vote based on our current “first past the post” method we use today. We will be studying this over the next year and will invite your input.
There was a great session on how certain towns and municipalities have achieved a reputation of places where people want to live. The overlying point is that people don’t just move to the least expensive place to live. They do want to become part of the community. This is something we are working on and I will write much more about this in future editions. Summer is at an end and its back to work and school. We at Springwater have a number of important considerations over the next few months, including the budget, next steps on a revised or new official plan, some major community open houses to address local issues and a focus on moving some building projects forward. I encourage you to get involved and come to our Council Meetings on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month starting at 6:30. If you can’t make it, watch the meetings live on the web www.springwater.ca/live and follow the action. Keep informed and involved with Springwater by checking out our website www.springwwater.ca and especially our calendar of meetings. Also stay close to the action and read this excellent local paper, the Springwater News, and check out our regular Springwater Link and Council Corner columns. Be part of the solution and have your say. Contact me at 705-728-4784 ext. 2040 or my cell at 705-718-7031 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on twitter @MayorFrench
A reminder these articles are my thoughts and perspectives on issues and I am but one voice on Council. These opinions may not reflect the position of other Councillors.
Bill French is the mayor of Springwater