Highlands East passes 2020 budget

By Sue Tiffin

Staff reporter

The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Feb. 11 regular meeting of Highlands East council.

Highlands East council passed the 2020 budget on Feb. 11 with a 3.81 per cent municipal tax rate increase and total tax rate increase of 1.61 per cent a tax dollar increase of $13.69 on $100000 assessment.

Highlands East CAO Shannon Hunter had said during the draft budget process that items earmarked for the budget were included for health and safety reasons or were items that have been identified by staff as having a need to be addressed in the current year.

Allocations to the building department renovations were removed from the final budget acknowledging that the work being done was not deterring functionality and that the municipality might be moving toward a one municipal administration facility after a recommendation in a facilities report by WalterFedy.

Additionally a funding request for a geocaching trip was removed as well as a consultant fee looking into changing the structure of council and how a deputy mayor is chosen.

“I can’t even imagine how much work goes into preparing this” said Councillor Cam McKenzie who noted the length of the budget and said that in his five years on council he had never seen a major disagreement from council throughout the process.

Sleeping in Cars to focus on youth

Nataly Mylan spoke to a second annual Sleeping in Cars event hosted by Places for People requesting that it be approved to be held outside the Lloyd Watson Centre in Wilberforce on March 27.

The one-night awareness and fundraising event which was first held last year takes place throughout the county with participants sleeping in their cars as people who are experiencing homelessness often do when housing or emergency accommodation options are limited.

Mylan said this year’s event will have special emphasis on youth homelessness which she said is not always seen in the form of people sleeping in public places but which exists in the county.“There’s a gap between youth and adult services that has been there for a long time and we’re not able to offer youth a real alternative apart from couch surfing” she said.

Bark Lake condo

Council approved a request by Century Lane Development Corporation for a two-year extension to the draft plan approval of a subdivision and condominium plan proposed along the southern shoreline of Bark Lake. The County of Haliburton granted draft approval to the plan in April 2016 and the owner was granted a one-year extension to the original draft approval in March 2019 that extension expiring on April 29 2020.

According to a report from Chris Jones planner “The subdivision and condominium is comprised of 83 recreational lots as well as 11 condominium blocks which provide for the common ownership of open space roads utilities and infrastructure and other shared-use buildings.”The resolution in support of the request will be forwarded to the County of Haliburton.

Outdoor rinks not in operation

In his report to council Jim Alden property supervisor noted the outdoor rinks in Cardiff and Gooderham remain challenging to maintain due to weather conditions and availability of volunteers. “With the fluctuating temperatures over the Christmas holidays it was impossible to maintain suitable ice at either of the outdoor rinks” he reported. “Due to the weather and a lack in volunteers neither outdoor rink is being maintained this season.”

Arena positive review

Alden also praised staff within the property and parks department after arena attendants received positive comments during a novice hockey tournament held at the arena on the first week in February.

“The arena attendants received some positive comments about the facility during the weekend people remarked that for an arena in the middle of ‘nowhere’ it’s a nice facility having good ice being very clean and well maintained” he reported. “There were also praises for the arena attendants for keeping busy and on the go doing things.”

In 2019 there were 446.50 hours of ice time rentals at Keith Tallman Memorial Arena compared to 271.50 hours in 2018.