Council Recap: Dec 19, 2018

If you missed the agenda for Dec 19, click here. If you missed the preview, click here.

We had a full agenda for the December 19, 2018 meeting of Middlesex Centre council. Here’s what we reviewed and what happened:

Delegations, Presentations, and Petitions

  • First we had a presentation from Marianne Love of ML Consulting. Marianne helps our staff and Council make decisions regarding staff compensation, and we typically hear from her once or twice a year.
  • Ian Wilcox from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority came to make his presentation about the UTRCA’s accomplishments thus far, and why recent requests (and 2019’s) are substantially higher on a percentage basis than normal.
    • Largely the rationale for the higher request is that the UTRCA’s budget has only allowed them to maintain status quo when it comes to wetland, woodlot, and river conservation. The UTRCA has been working to substantially increase the efforts to actually improve things, rather than just stem any losses.
    • All of Komoka and Kilworth (Ward 4) fall within the UTRCA’s jurisdiction, as do Melrose, Ilderton, Arva, Birr, and Bryanston.
    • This is not a funding increase that Council can actually vote on, as the conservation authorities must be funded to an equitable level. We do have local representation on each CA board, so there is a resident there that knows the impacts any funding increase or decrease will have.
    • What this boils down to is an additional $6,623 being requested from Middlesex Centre. That’s less than $1 per household for the year if the costs were distributed evenly since we have over 7,000 properties paying property tax.
  • Sofia Caldwell, Centre Manager for Middlesex Centre YMCA made a presentation largely designed to get new Councillors up to speed on the partnership, membership numbers and impacts the YMCA has had, and their plan going forward. Sofia informed us that more free times have recently been added to the schedule, like free use of the walking track that already exists, and a dedicated webpage is being added to the YMCA’s website to better inform residents of those times available!
  • Tiffany Farrell, Middlesex Centre’s Director of Corporate Services and Treasurer, was back from vacation and provided her overview of all that she oversees. It’s wide reaching, so I would encourage you to review the presentation for yourself.
  • Tiffany then presented the 2019 budget survey results. Here are some quick highlights:
    • Ward 4 had a substantial voice in the survey! That’s great to see.
    • Overall most residents feel good about the services they receive for the property taxes and user fees they pay.
    • The only area where residents really wanted to see a reduction was in “general government.” I echo Tiffany’s sentiment that most people probably don’t have a clear idea of what that entails, but hopefully the aforementioned presentation will give you a good idea of what that would mean like longer request times when you call the office, longer processing times, reduced ability to innovate, etc.

Consent Agenda

  • The November Building Report was really positive. There is still lots of activity happening across Middlesex Centre, and we pulled ahead of 2017’s activity thanks primarily to new single detached homes, condominiums at Bella Lago, and septic system work.
  • The 2018 budget is also in good shape, as previously mentioned in the meeting preview.
    • Councillor Aerts requested that some items be further broken down so that Council can see greater granularity on some of the larger areas. Tiffany said she could do that, and also accepted Councillor Aerts’ request for a one-on-one meeting to dive deeper into each area.

Staff Reports

  • After some back and forth about the cost of the system, the benefits to staff and applicants, and the long-term costs, the Building Division’s request for $13,000 to subscribe to an electronic building permit application software prior to the budget being passed was approved.
    • We’re hoping this will make the process much easier for all parties involved since it allows for online submissions, the ability to add third-parties like an architect or planner to let them submit their own attachments to an application, the ability to bring up all those documents on-site instead of having to print them off beforehand, etc.
    • It’s built by a well-respected firm from Finland, where the planning and application process is similar to Ontario’s, and other southwestern Ontario municipalities are also looking to subscribe like the City of Windsor.
    • This request was approved by Council, especially since it doesn’t affect property taxes. The Building Department is self-funded via fees paid for their work.
  • The write-offs for item 8.2 were well explain in the report and by Tiffany, and were approved by Council.
  • The aformentioned 2% COLA was also approved after a few more questions for clarification.

Public Meetings

  • 85 Queen St, Komoka – staff’s recommendation was to deny this request. Brian Snyder, who lives nearby and owns the majority of the Springer Pond, said he would accept the temporary permit if it was limited to 1 year. There were many questions from Council about the applicant’s efforts to find a suitable location, where we found out several similarly used properties are also not in compliance with their zoning. I put forth a motion to grant the applicant the temporary use for 18 months, and was told additional paperwork had to be drawn up first. This matter should be back before Council at January’s planning meeting.
  • 125 King St, Ilderton – this application was approved.
  • 10125 Oxbow Dr, Komoka – this application for the severance of 3 lots was back before Council. Staff’s previous concerns have now been addressed, and they recommended approval of the severance. This applicant will be back before Council later this year, or early 2020, with a plan of subdivision for the rest of the lands and there will be larger public meetings needed then. This application for 3 lots was approved.

There isn’t much to say about the correspondence, so we’ll leave it at that! If you have any questions, please let me know.