Middlesex Centre Council Recap: May – Jun 2017

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May 2017

  • Middlesex Centre received full scope accreditation for their management of municipal water and wastewater systems! ūüėÄ
  • Quite coincidentally, after much teeth gnashing over an alleged “raise” for the Director of Public Works & Engineering appearing on 2016’s Sunshine List, staff brought forth a new Compensation Management policy designed to curb costs and still ensure municipal staff receive the benefits their due.
    • The new policy prevents staff from being provided both time in lieu and overtime.
    • Time in lieu is offered to employees, and especially department heads, because they attend Council meetings in addition to working a full day, and those Council meetings can last upwards of four hours when there are public meetings to conduct.
    • The new policy prevents municipal employees from being paid out for unused time in lieu.
    • This was the source of the majority of the extra funds paid out to the Director of PWE, as he has not been unable to use the time in lieu given the extra duties that have been under his purview. As roles are filled, he will be able to take the time off he is owed.
  • The overwhelming majority of residents, and prospective residents, of the Komoka Glen subdivision asked for help in either preventing, or modifying, the noise wall that’s supposed to be erected prior to the subdivision being assumed by the municipality.
    • I met with a few of the residents prior to their delegation at Council to hear them out. I agree that the current noise wall plans don’t make any sense, and at the Council meeting we directed staff to contact the appropriate rail authorities to determine whether alterations can be made, and how to go about that.
  • We found out that Herm’s Sport Exchange is going to stick around at the Wellness Centre for another year, now that we’ve brought the Komoka Kings Junior ‘B’ hockey team to the Wellness Centre.

June 2017

  • We voted to adopt a new reserve and reserve fund policy that further spells out under which conditions funds can be withdrawn, transferred, and so on. If you’re interesting in this sort of thing, it’s worth a read.
  • My motion to have staff report back on possible traffic calming measures for Westbrook Drive failed, however it was largely because the work would likely have taken 18 months to complete.
    • That’s because the municipality doesn’t have any policies or design standards around traffic calming measures, and therefore those would have had to have been created first.
    • Despite the motion failing, staff are taking the issue seriously and are conducting their own investigations. We had a speed monitor out on Westbrook Drive the next day, collecting data. And there is a pilot program taking place with traffic calming measures being deployed in some trouble areas to see how well they work.
  • Our auditor reported that our financials looked healthy, and everything was in order. You can review the 2016 Draft Financial Statements here.
  • We voted to execute the agreement with the Komoka Kings Junior ‘B’ hockey team, bringing the organization to the Komoka Wellness Centre for the next 10 years. I’m looking forward to seeing the home games on Saturday nights!
  • We voted to execute the site plan agreement for Glendon Drive Developments, allowed them to start requesting building permits for the new commercial plaza at Glendon Drive and Tunks Lane, across the street from the Wellness Centre.
    • Settling the matter also required with withdrawal of the OMB appeal, which happened in early July.
  • We also approved a video surveillance policy, limiting the storage of any video captured to five days, as recommend by the Canadian privacy commissioner. This will impact any existing video surveillance already in use, like at water and wastewater infrastructure points, and the Wellness Centre.

It was a busy two months, which also included a lot of surplus residence severances on agricultural properties across the municipality. As always, if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them!

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.

Recent Key Decisions & Events: Feb. 19, 2017

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Hello Ward 4!

I just wanted to bring everyone up to speed on some recent decisions made, and what the impact is to the community, if any.

The Off-Leash Dog Park pilot project that ran last summer, and into the fall/winter due to the weather, was recently reviewed by Middlesex Centre staff and Council. The pilot program was hugely successful in many ways, but there were many negative impacts at the Kilworth River Flats.

  • A child was bitten by one of the dogs using the area.
  • Dogs were¬†routinely getting into area residents’ backyards, necessitating a lot of trespassing by area residents and non-residents alike in order to retrieve their four-legged friends.
  • The traffic and parking issues that were inevitably going to happen did, in fact, happen, and perhaps were worse than thought they could be.
  • And several other issues.
  • As a result, Council voted to formalize the off-leash dog parks in Ilderton and Arva, but to¬†end the River Flats off-leash dog park.
Large Tree Map Example

Large Tree Map Example

I’m using Highcharts.com’s tools to put together a budget visualization webpage. This will use a large tree map to show residents where their money is going, and I will also put together graphs to show the current budget in comparison with past years. I think it will be a nice addition to the presentations and spreadsheets normally provided to, well, everyone.

The variance for the new commercial plaza at Tunks Lane and Glendon Drive was approved, and that should be moving forward. I don’t have a timeline on when site servicing will begin, but I imagine there will be work on the site this spring or summer. All indications are that a Foodland and LCBO are part of the plan, but as written in the Middlesex Banner no confirmations have been provided.

I have been making an effort to act as a mediator between MXC staff and South Winds in order to try and speed up the negotiation process for Edgewater Estates, which has to have the agreements in place before the new pumping station and force main can be built, but neither party has taken me up on my offer.

As a result of some MXC residents being surprised with conditions on their recent severance applications, I made a motion on January 25 to have staff come up with a standard list of conditions that severance applicants can expect to see when the recommendation comes before Council, and also to standardize on whether MXC would share in any additional costs as a result of those conditions (e.g. MXC taking a 6m x 6m corner of a property to improve sight lines). We’re waiting for that report to come back.

D’Lux Auto Spa opened this past week in Komoka! I wish them all the best and success in their venture.

Automated External Defibrillator

Automated External Defibrillator; Image Courtesy AEDsToday.com

You may have seen a¬†Woodstock Sentinel-Review¬†story about Councillors in Zorra Township and Thames Centre bringing forth motions to ask the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Education, and Thames Valley District School Board to develop a policy to ensure all school can accommodate automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and for the TVDSB to install AEDs across all its schools. I’m happy to say that, in working with Thames Centre Councillor Kelly Elliott, I’ll be bringing forth a motion on March 8 to join the chorus and ask for the same things. It’s incredibly odd that the TVDSB, from all the information supporters have been able to gather, is the only school board in the province actively preventing AEDs from being installed in schools, despite the costs being covered by other means.

I think that about covers it! As always, if you would like to get a hold of me, the Middlesex Centre website has my email address, cell phone number, and links to my social media accounts.

Have a great Family Day, and don’t be shy to say hi!

Springer Ponds Development

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On January 25, 2017 a public meeting was held to speak about an application from Springer Ponds Development Inc. where they sought to receive approval for a draft subdivision plan, along with a zoning by-law amendment. Here are the:

That evening, though some will tell you otherwise, nothing was approved.

During the public meeting we heard from the property owner/applicant, many concerned residents in the area, municipal staff, and Councillors on topics such as:

  • The applicant’s financial capacity to complete any site works and related road works
  • The length of time required to complete the works
  • The potential for the pond to be partially filled in (based on past proposals that have since been withdrawn, but were included in the January 25 package anyway)
  • How the applicant planned to have the new lots developed
  • The potential for infringing on another neighbour’s property rights, whom also owns part of the pond
  • Noise, pollution, and related matters
  • Where water that drains from the pond goes (it seems to drain to the larger pond south of Glendon Dr, and then over¬†to the ponds west of Komoka Rd)
  • And other concerns!

There was a lot of back and forth. Ultimately the staff recommendation put forth was to defer approving anything until staff had an opportunity to come up with a list of conditions. That is what was approved; to have staff develop a list of recommendations before reviewing the application and zoning by-law amendment again.

Again, for clarity: the draft subdivision plan and zoning by-law amendments have not been approved.

For me, personally, I’m not someone who allows themselves to be subject to “slippery slope” type issues. The owner of the property is currently seeking to sever the property he owns along Springer St in order to accommodate new homes, and based on what he said during the meeting, sell those lots to individuals/couples and have those folks find their own builders.

Regardless of what the property owner eventually applies for to do along Glendon Drive or Queen St, I will review and assess those applications individually when the time comes. They are not up for review right now as they were withdrawn.

As for the trees that were cut down on the property last week, neither Middlesex Centre, Middlesex County, or the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority had any legal manner to stop that. The property is not designated a significant woodland, nor is it designated a wetland. We were legally powerless to stop it. The property owner later informed us that he was only having dead trees cut down, but I have received information stating otherwise. Regardless, we couldn’t do anything about that.

Moving forward I will be keeping a keen eye on the conditions recommended, any changes to the plans, further variances/amendments requested, and ensuring I listen to the affected residents, and anyone else who can provide pertinent information or opinions, to ensure the best outcome is achieved.

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