A Response to ItStinks.ca

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Alright, let’s start this off with some quick points:

  • The information photographed at itstinks.ca was provided to all parties on May 17.
  • There is no backroom deal. In fact, there’s no deal at all yet.
  • The paragraph photographed is a proposal by Tridon, which is being submitted to the OMB Thursday (along with proposals from any other parties).
  • We have approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources to build the force main between the months of October and March.

Now that we got what is, likely, the most important issues out of the way, let’s dive a bit deeper.

The folks behind itstinks.ca, and I will say I’m quite confident it’s not the Ratepayers Association – who does that leave? ūü§Ē – is full of baseless accusations that have no legs to stand on.

This “secret deal” is nothing but a proposal put forth by Tridon, forwarded to all parties to this OMB hearing (Middlesex Centre, Komoka-Kilworth Ratepayers Association, and Southwinds Development), back on May 17. So, think for a minute: why did this website domain only get registered yesterday? How long would you sit on information like this if you wanted to drum up a baseless smear campaign?

This proposal is likely being put forth as a contingency plan, on the part of Tridon, in case Southwinds can’t come to an agreement with MXC, and also in case Southwinds can’t complete the draft plan approval conditions. If you were a business owner, and were relying on someone else getting a contract in place before you could start building something, wouldn’t you put together a backup plan?

“But Derek,” you might be thinking, “I was assured at [insert meeting/date] that no more homes would be connected to the existing wastewater treatment facility.” Yes, a fair point. And I would respond by saying that even if Tridon gets this option into their final agreement, they would still need to apply to the municipality to ask to connect those new homes to the existing wastewater treatment facility. And when you consider OPA 28 states no more development is allowed to connect to it, I would state that Tridon would have a heck of a time moving forward with that option, regardless of what the proposal they’re filing on Thursday with the OMB says.

And on that note, I will mention that further proof there is no backroom deal struck is that the hearing is still going forward, as scheduled, on Thursday. No one has been left out of the loop, though the people behind itstinks.ca would like you to think otherwise. Sorry, but it just isn’t true.

Let’s recap:

  • There is no deal at this point.
  • Middlesex Centre has not agreed to allow 1,000 new homes connect to the existing wastewater treatment facility.
  • What you’re looking at in that photo is a proposal provided to all parties to this OMB hearing almost a month ago.
  • Any calls from the people behind this website to address the issue “this summer” is being willfully ignorant of when the force main is allowed to be built. The force main, and resulting pumping station, will connect Kilworth’s wastewater infrastructure to the Komoka treatment plant.

Now, think to yourself, out of the parties to this hearing: who would have the most to gain by putting out this almost slanderous text? Who’s threatened Derek that they would go to the press before (not Tridon or KKRPA) just a day before a Council meeting where they had delegation status? Who’s hired a consultant from Toronto to help put together statements like this?¬†ūü§Ē

I have had enough of this sort of mud throwing. When I was appointed to Council in November I thought we could discuss these things as adults. Instead, one party has chosen to resort to schoolyard tactics.

What I can assure you is that all the parties to this OMB hearing, especially Middlesex Centre staff and Council, want to see all these issues addressed and settled so that we can move forward. I’m still very confident that the other parties believe these issues can be addressed and settled in 2017, as well. In fact, the folks at Southwinds were bringing in dump trucks upon dump trucks full of dirt back on April 27, 2017, and bulldozers can be seen filling in the gravel pit with said dirt even today.

I’ll be attending as much of the OMB hearing as I can beginning Thursday. I will provide what updates I can at the time.

I’m going to try and get a recap of the biggest decisions to happen since February up soon, too.

Comprehensive Look at Glendon Drive Shopping Plaza

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If you’re already familiar with the information below, you can fill out this second survey now.

The reason for this evening’s zoning by-law amendment variance request is that the developer is asking Council to reduce the minimum requirement that 65% of the lot frontage of the property include building fa√ßades, from 65% to 32%. We got down to 65% after previously approving a reduction from 75%. So, Maverick is essentially asking Council to approve a reduction from 75% building fa√ßades, down to 32% building fa√ßades fronting Glendon Drive. They also want to increase the maximum front yard setback from 1.5m to 4.75m.

This is, obviously, a huge change¬†and drastically decreases the municipality’s ability to achieve the vision for this property where you would feel like you’re walking in a nice, well-kept, urban environment with sidewalks, trees, and building¬†fa√ßades near you.

Think of the best downtown you’ve ever been to. That’s what all the Municipality’s aims and plans for this area are trying to achieve.

Yesterday I put out a survey that looked at a very simplified version of the current site and landscaping plan. Overwhelmingly, many people like the current iteration. That’s great, I’m glad folks like it. I wanted to put together a bit more information and context after reading the full motion to make sure I get a more holistic perspective from residents.

Screenshot of current site plan.

Click the blueprint to view the full set of architectural drawings for the site, as currently envisioned by Maverick Developments.

And here are the elevation drawings I was provided last week. You can see that, for the most part, this is very much similar to the suburban plazas found in areas like Hyde Park Rd & Fanshawe Park Rd in London, and the Southdale Rd and Wonderland Rd S area of London.

So, now that you have a bit more context, please answer this new, short survey so that I can make a more informed vote at Council tonight on whether people are happy with only 32% of the lot frontage being building façades, or whether

Latest Information on Pumping Station and Kilworth Wastewater Treatment Facility

Map of Kilworth, Ontario
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This is the current lay of the land. Middlesex Centre (MXC) staff and Council all want to see the Kilworth WWTF decommissioned as quickly as my neighbours who live even closer to it than I do, and are affected by it more than me. I can walk there in three minutes. I sympathize.

If you have follow-up questions after reading recent information from the Kilworth-Komoka Ratepayers Association and this post, or something you saw on Facebook, I would be happy to do my best to clear anything up for you. My contact information can be found on MXC’s website.

Some Background

The Kilworth Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) was upgraded in 2008 to use the membrane technology currently in use. At the time, the upgrade was done to handle all existing Kilworth wastewater flows. MXC’s¬†Master Servicing Plan – dated April 2010, prepared by Stantec Consulting, and endorsed by the Council at the time – recommended that all future growth of Kilworth be supported by a new¬†pumping station, as identified in the Kilworth Wastewater Outlet Schedule ‚ÄėB‚Äô Class Environmental Assessment dated November 27, 2013, which was prepared by Delcan. This new pumping station is planned to be located within South Winds Development‚Äôs Edgewater Estates subdivision.

Once they are built, the new pumping station and forcemain will support all existing and future wastewater flows from Kilworth, which will ultimately be pumped to the recently expanded (2011) Komoka WWTF.

What’s Happening Now

The costs associated with building the new¬†Kilworth pumping station and forcemain will, in the end,¬†be shared three ways between MXC, South Winds, and Don Black Investments, with the costs being divided based on wastewater flow contribution. As I’m writing this, MXC remains in negotiation over the subdivision and cost sharing agreement with South Winds. Construction cannot proceed before the agreement is finalized¬†and signed by all parties, at which time all required subdivision servicing will be¬†completed to said pumping station.

Once the proposed works are constructed, the Environmental Compliance Assessment (ECA) recently received from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) does not have an expiry date. Based on the recommendations of the Natural Environment Report detailed in the Environmental Assessment, the timing of actual construction activities should be restricted to between October 1 and March 15 to avoid adverse affects on aquatic ecosystems, ground animals, and nesting activities of sensitive bird species that are present in Komoka Provincial Park.

Therefore, as soon as we can get shovels into the ground, we will. We have every hope, and anticipate, this will start in 2017. However, as stated above, there are a few more kinks to work out in the subdivision and cost sharing agreement. If there was a way to move more quickly, I assure you we would have pursued it by now. But have heart, we will get it done!

Upcoming Public Meetings on January 25, 2017

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Municipal staff recently notified me that there are several public meetings coming up during the January 25, 2017 Council Meeting. These usually start at 7pm, so you don’t need to attend the whole meeting.

If you review these and want to ask me any questions, please feel free to do so via Twitter, Facebook, email, or phone.

If you have any feedback at all, let me know!

What to Expect in 2017 from Middlesex Centre

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Well, in a highly unexpected twist of circumstances (1, 2, 3), I was appointed Ward 4 Councillor in Middlesex Centre on November 30, 2016. You can see the municipality’s press release here.

During the months of November and December, I had the opportunity to hear from many residents already on a number of issues. Some I am supportive of, others I’m not. That is the nature of discourse, and perfectly reasonable. I wanted to highlight a few key measures I voted on during my first few meetings, and what to expect from the Municipality of Middlesex Centre (MXC) and me during 2017.

  • There was a vote to ask a consultant, Nigel Bellchamber, to participate in the interview process for the new Fire Chief. I don’t have any against Mr. Bellchamber, but it seemed there were already too many people involved, and Mr. Bellchamber had already provided a great report on what our firefighters and District Chiefs would like to see in a Chief. I voted no on spending additional money to hire Mr. Bellchamber, but the vote passed to ask him to join the hiring process.
  • Council voted to approve spending $30,000 from the Delaware Hydro Reserve Fund (no impact to taxes whatsoever) to help pay for a new floor at the Delaware Community Centre. We’re hoping that will be ready before Canada Day.
  • Rob Clarke Auto’s expansion was approved, and they have already started building two additional bays. It’s very nice to see a local business, located in Kilworth, grow!
  • Council voted to freeze water and wastewater rates for 2017. No, they aren’t going down, but the cost cutting measures taken in 2016 have enabled us to freeze the rates for this year. It’s a welcome reprieve from multiple years of increases.
  • Staff produced a report on whether fees for paper bills should be enacted. They found no evidence of other municipalities charging a fee for residents to receive paper utility bills, and therefore recommended MXC not being doing so. Council approved the recommendation, but it’s worth noting that water/wastewater bills will be sent out monthly going forward.
    • Yes, moving to a monthly bill increases mail costs a bit, but will also help families manage their budgets more easily. The more families that move to receiving their water/wastewater electronically, whether through Canada Post ePost or email directly from the Municipality, the lower our costs will be overall. You’re welcome to call the municipal office and get signed up for email bills, or use your online banking site to sign up for ePost.
  • We had a very contentious issue over online/phone voting for the 2018 municipal election. I was happy we used this system for voting in 2014, however the extensive research I have done on online voting, the discussions I have had with web development professionals, and even my attempts to design (on paper) a truly secure system that provides all the benefits of a paper ballot have all led me to have a very specific set of thoughts on the matter. Unfortunately, questions I asked like whether or not InteliVote’s code had been audited independently, could not be answered during the debate on December 14, 2016. The vote to continue using InteliVote passed, with me voting¬†no only because I wanted answers to my questions first.
    • It’s worth noting that, at this time, MXC has not voted to introduce other voting systems, like ranked balloting. Given the dearth of contests in the 2014 election, I don’t think it would have benefited us. Hopefully there’s more competition in 2018!
  • I have fielded multiple, valid complaints from residents on the quality of snow maintenance so far this winter. The up/down temperature cycles haven’t helped, but you can easily see inconsistencies in how sand or salt has been laid down, how close (or far) to the curb the plows are getting, and so on. I’ve been actively engaging with staff to ensure your concerns are addressed, and so far it does appear things have gotten better during the last plow. I absolutely want to hear from you, and so does staff, if you have concerns regarding snow maintenance.
  • Lastly, I voted¬†no to continue using our own closed meeting investigator. I wanted to opt for the Ombudsman instead, however I was not able to convince the rest of Council that this was, in my opinion, the right thing to do. I have heard from residents that choosing our own closed meeting investigator makes it look like we’re seeking preferential treatment, and that such a person can be dismissed at a whim if we don’t like what they say, like the integrity commissioner that was recently dismissed (which ultimately started the chain reaction that led to me ending up on Council). If you feel similarly, I implore you to speak with the Mayor and your Councillor and ask them to stop spending $1,000 a year on a service we have not used.

What to Expect in 2017

  • I’m going to be asking staff to do some homework later this year to see if we can lower the minimum water and wastewater usage rates, and what implications that will have.
  • I will help staff to find, and make suggestions on new measures, to continue to cut costs. I’m not out to slash and burn, but always looking at things critically to determine whether products/services we purchase, or services we provide, can be done at a lower cost.
  • I’m going to hold multiple sit-downs at local restaurants where you can come and sit down, enjoy a drink, and speak with me face-to-face. Expect the first one to happen before the end of March.
  • I’m confident that Edgewater Estates will be approved to move forward, and the construction of the new sewer line to Komoka will finally begin. Once that’s done and in service, the Kilworth Treatment Plant will be decommissioned, relieving many residents of awful smells throughout the year.
  • I have two residents, in particular, who are seeking relief from various bylaws. One, I am assisting to allow them to plead their case; the other is in clear violation of the Infrastructure Design Standards, and not allowing the developer of their subdivision to hand over control to MXC, but doesn’t seem to care. You can’t please everyone.
  • The new Ilderton Skating Park will begin construction.
  • MXC is replacing existing vehicles with three fully electric vehicles. I’m really excited about this! They will be shared by two departments, Public Works & Engineering and By-Law Enforcement & Building Inspections.
    • January 11, 2017: I previously stated we were buying two vehicles. This was incorrect.
  • We will receive a report from staff on the result of the off-leash dog park pilot program.
  • Finally, the website is undergoing a bit of a restructuring to make things easier to find. I’ve offered my assistance, providing advice where I can, given my role at a web development firm in London and experience building my own websites over the past 15 years.

Overall, you can expect to get regular updates like these from me, at least monthly. I want everyone to be in the loop on decisions being made that impact Ward 4, and the rest of MXC. If you have any questions at all you can reach me on Twitter, Facebook, email, or phone 226-448-6774 (please leave a message if I don’t answer). My contact information is also on the municipal website.