Councillors’ remuneration to increase next term

By Sue Tiffin

Published Feb. 27 2018

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Feb. 20 meeting of Dysart et al council.

Councillors voted to increase pay of elected officials changes that will come into effect at the end of this year for the next term of council. Discussion about the increase which lessens the gap in pay  between Dysart et al officials and other lower-tier councillors in the county has taken place for months.

As of Dec. 1 2018 the mayor spot will earn $26744 an increase of $500 the deputy-mayor jumps to $21395 from $17317 and councillors will be bumped to $18721 from $14843.

Councillor Susan Norcross voted yes but spoke up before the vote regarding the decision.

“I do not understand how this happened – I just don’t get the machinations of how we got to  it’s OK for next year but it’s not OK for this current council” she said.

“I want to point out that it’s over the next term almost a year’s pay. It’s just shameful we got this far without a raise all these years. But I do want to see it happen and I did want to see it happen now so I’m voting yes. But I had to get my two cents in.”

The Dysart fire budget would increase by $50000 a year and the department would struggle to meet minimum training standards if proposed regulations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act released by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in January are approved later this spring.

Rural communities face unique challenges with the draft regulations due to firefighters being volunteers.

Although all firefighters in Dysart are trained having everyone be certified in the one- to two-year time period suggested by the draft regulations would prove difficult.

Council opted to act quickly to support recommendations drafted by the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) to bring forward fiscal risk management timing and technical aspects that the AMO said require review.

Responses to the draft regulations are due March 11 this year.

Algonquin Outfitters representative Andy Pielsticker spoke to council about bringing a Paddle and Pedal rental operation to Head Lake Park from June to September through the Explore Your Lakes program.

The program – similar to rental programs already run by Algonquin Outfitters in destination spots including Lake of Two Rivers and Huntsville – would offer rental of equipment like canoes kayaks SUPs and bicycles on weekends holidays and during special events including the farmers’ market days.

Among other benefits Pielsticker said the program would lead to improved community health.

Tanya Sisson West Guilford Community Centre president presented an annual update to council about the action happening at the centre.

The centre is used for major events such as the Hardwater Festival and Canada Day celebrations weekly yoga and euchre nights as an election polling station and for weddings and bridal showers.
“We’re fairly busy” she said. “I’d like to be more busy.”

Council discussed options including bringing more fitness instructors in or promoting kitchen rentals.

Hope Lee Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton Housing Corporation CEO presented the final report of the City of Kawartha Lakes and County of Haliburton Affordable Housing Framework outlining actions municipalities can take to encourage the development of affordable housing.

The report states that almost a quarter of households in Haliburton are facing housing affordability issues.

A total of 147 new affordable housing units were built in Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton between 2009 and 2015 and 12 in 2017 but according to the report the number of applications on the centralized waiting list for subsidized housing has increased by 155.8 per cent since 2012.

Lee noted that seniors as well as families with and without dependants are affected with some individuals sometimes paying 50 to 70 per cent of their income on housing.

“We have long waiting lists so although we create some units annually our waiting list … has doubled since 2007 or so” she said.

“There’s currently 872 households on the waiting list just in the county alone.”

Overall Lee said there are 1300 households in the combined area waiting for affordable housing.
The report offers 26 housing actions that can be implemented including a streamlined development approval process for affordable housing and market rental housing developing a centralized inventory of lands that are ideal for the development of affordable housing and market rental housing and sharing this information with residential developers and adding official plan policies stating that decisions regarding surplus municipal land and buildings will consider affordable housing first.

Lee said a larger review of needs and setting targets will be happening throughout 2018 including a five-year update to the 10-year housing and homelessness plan and a housing master plan.

Councillor Walt McKechnie told council he’s been approached by people hoping to see Head Lake Park lit up more at night as he said it had been in the past.

“It sure does look great if it’s done right” he said. “Our park is such an important part of our little village.”

McKechnie suggested white lights to highlight the park in the darker hours. Councillor Dennis Casey said solar lights might be an option. Mayor Murray Fearrey said the idea could be looked into.