Middlesex Centre Council Recap: Jan 2018 – April 2018

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Hello there! First, let me please apologize for not posting these updates as often as I wanted to. To be frank, not a whole lot happened during the last half of 2017 except for a few key issues:

  • The OMB hearing over the Tridon/Don Black lands (formerly the Gabriel farm on Glendon Dr) was dealt with, and decisions were issued. Site works are now under way.
  • The OMB hearing over the South Winds lands was dealt with, and site works are now under way.
  • The 2018 budget was passed with only a slight increase in the tax rate. As previously mentioned, water and wastewater rates held steady. The aforementioned developments will help us keep those rates under control.

During the first four months of the year, Council made a few significant decisions, including:

January 2018

  • We reviewed and voted to receive the annual drinking water and wastewater reports for 2017. Overall 2017 was a very positive year with only a few minor issues that were swiftly addressed. Our water and wastewater operations teams are doing really good work ensuring we have safe, potable water and a wastewater system that does its job.
  • The final budget report for 2017 was received, and overall the financials of Middlesex Centre are in very good shape. The only large amount of debt we took on for this year was funding for development charges, since there is a lag between when the money is spent and when it’s collected. However, development charges paid also cover the interest on the debt, so taxpayers are not out any money on this debt.
  • We awarded the contract to expand the Ilderton wastewater treatment facility, allowing for the development of the Sifton Clear Skies property on the northeast corner of Hyde Park Rd and Ilderton Rd. This is fully funded by development charges, and therefore existing residents/taxpayers are not on the hook for the $5,380,040.00 contract.

February 2018

  • We issued grants to the following organizations using the Council Grants program:
    • London and Middlesex Heritage Museum – Fanshawe Pioneer Village – $5,000.00
    • Tri-County Heritage Club – $1,500.00
    • Middlesex Centre Archives – $5,000.00
    • Komoka Railway Museum – $1,500.00
    • Del-Ko-Brydge Canada Day – $1,000.00
    • Poplar Hill Picnic – $1,200.00
    • Optimist Club of Bryanston-Birr – $1,500.00
  • We appointed a new clerk! Her name is Ann Wright, and she’s been doing a great job so far.
  • My notice of motion to include a live streaming solution as part of the new municipal agenda meeting management software was approved! I’m very optimistic that a decent, affordable solution will be presented to Council later this year for approval.

March 2018

  • We received a report on the changes made to the appeals process for planning decisions, which has scrapped the Ontario Municipal Board in favour of the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
    • Though much of the same staff will remain in place, the new appeals process puts far more control back into the hands of muncipalities, and now it is up to an appellant to prove that a municipality did not following its established planning procedures, and the Planning Act. This is good for everyone except for developers who feel like they’re not getting their way.
  • We wrote to the Province to support SARI’s property tax exemption over new property they recently acquired. It’s a great program that does very important work for children with disabilities.
  • We voted to approve moving the Council meeting start time from 4pm to 6pm. We are hopeful that this will allow a great portion of the public to attend Council meetings, and will encourage more people to run for office this year.
  • We were finally able to approve the purchase of two electric vehicles for our Green Fleet – one Chevrolet Volt, and one Chevrolet Bolt. Both vehicles are already in use and lowering our gasoline costs, while also reducing our greenhouse gas emissions overall.

April 2018

  • Council approved a parking arrangement for some businesses in Arva to help relieve the pressure on Medway Rd. We will continue to face some parking pressures as Medway High School’s sports field undergoes renovations over the next few months, but at least some area businesses have a bit of parking set aside for them now.
  • Council approved our first engagement with Middlesex ALUS to allow the organization, on their own dime, to re-naturalize a portion of the lands on the Delaware Enviro Depot property once we have performed some drainage work.
  • Council directed staff to proceed with a Pedestrian Crossover Program, formalizing the adoption of several different types of crossovers/crosswalks for different types of roads and traffic counts. In Ward 4, you can expect to see crosswalks installed at Jefferies Rd & Stephen Moore Dr in Kilworth, at Komoka Rd & Hamilton St in Komoka, and at Queen St & Fieldstone Gate in Komoka over the next few years. This should improve safety for our children, and really all citizens that walk in those areas.
  • We removed the holding zone provision for Clear Skies in Ilderton, allowing that development to move forward.

And those are the highlights for the first four months of this year! The municipal election nomination period began yesterday, and I’m looking forward to seeing who throws their name into the hat. The next few months, and years, are going to be really excited all around Middlesex Centre, and especially Komoka and Kilworth.

Hyde Park Was a Quaint Village

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I recently read a story in the London Free Press about how the citizens and businesses of Hyde Park are disappointed about the “progress” taking place in Hyde Park. And Monday night the city planner’s recommendations were ignored by the planning committee, obliterating the fact that Hyde Park was once a quaint village. My bus used to go through it everyday when I was in high school, and I got that village vibe then.

Councillor Matt Brown, who represents Hyde Park, knows what used to be, and what was supposed to happen. Beyond the massive plaza at the corner of Hyde Park Rd and Fanshawe Park Rd W (Walmart, HomeSense, Canadian Tire, Future Shop, etc.), I felt the space between Sarnia Rd and Seagull Rd was being used reasonably well. A nice mix of housing types have been built including townhouses, a high-rise condo building, and of course single detached homes. That’s all been well and good, fully introducing the concept of being able to live in the same neighbourhood your entire life.

Unfortunately, the rest of the land that was previously set aside for additional residential use has now been re-zoned for commercial use at the behest of Kenmore Homes.

A lot of people like to say, “Well, we need jobs!” Yes, you’re right, we do. But unless this commercial space is mostly turned into offices, these are not going to be the well-paying jobs that most people need and want. Another retail location is simply another barely-more-than-minimum-wage (if that) job that barely keeps the employee above the poverty line. Strong nations and communities are not built on a strong retail sector.

And while Joe Swan may have recently driven through the area and not felt that “quaint village that they talk about,” that’s because he’s about 10 years too late. It did feel like a quaint village at one point, and many things could have been done to keep that feeling. Instead it’s starting to feel like the corner of Dundas St E and Clarke Rd, where residential and commercial collide in the most heinous way possible.