Civil marriages to be offered in Highlands East

By Sue Tiffin

The following are brief reports of items discussed at an April 9 meeting of Highlands East council.

Highlands East clerk Robyn Rogers said in her time with the municipality she hasn’t had inquiries about getting marriage licences or having a civil marriage ceremony performed but did have a request from resident Nancy Wright-Laking regarding whether the municipality would consider civil marriages to be conducted as Wright-Laking a previous clerk can do so.

“In 2004 the Marriage Act was amended to allow municipal clerks or an individual under contract with the municipality to perform civil marriages” said a report from Rogers. “Since that time many municipalities have implemented these services as a way to provide a low cost simple alternative to traditional costly wedding ceremonies. This would provide an increased convenience to year round and seasonal residents who choose to marry.”

Rogers said Wright-Laking “has had the authority and opportunity to be a wedding officiant and has conducted hundreds of ceremonies and is requesting that the clerk’s authority be delegated to her to provide the service.”

Revenue would be generated from issuing licences and conducting ceremonies.

Council agreed to provide marriage licences and the solemnization of marriages. A bylaw will be brought forward in the future.

Highlands East Fire Department will continue participating in a mutual aid plan that sees fire departments throughout Haliburton County assist each other in case of major emergency. The plan has been in place in the county since fire departments were formed but has recently been revised with some wording changes requiring it to come back to Highlands East council for approval.

“The mutual aid plan sets out assignments for extra resources in a major emergency” said Chris Baughman acting fire chief in his report to council. “This could be tanker trucks for water shuttle or man power for a long duration emergency. It also allows and ensures that during a major emergency that coverage is maintained through the rest of the county. Mutual aid is provided at no cost to a municipality on a reciprocal basis.”

Last year’s hydro transformer station fire in Minden is an example of a situation benefiting from the mutual aid plan.

“Overall our mutual aid plan works quite well and our departments are working very well together” said Baughman in his report to council. “Increased joint training and standardization will only lead to more cohesive responses to major emergencies within the county.”

Council unanimously approved ongoing participating in the plan.

A new sound system providing wireless microphones for council and staff who sit at the council table a microphone for the podium where staff and delegations engage with council an ear-suspension earphone and a new screen to better project visuals that include council agendas and presentations is expected to make council meetings more accessible.

Hearing councillors speak at council meetings held in the Lloyd Watson Community Centre with council on stage and staff members of the gallery and the media at seats on the main level has proven to be difficult.

The LWC has a speaker and microphone system but the number of microphones – one – is inadequate for the number of councillors. Additionally the current sound system board has been overused and is aged.

The cost of a new sound system totals $12804 from LB Brown Audio Visual Ltd.

“While this was not a projected cost in the approved 2019 budget it is a cost that really would be an asset to the municipality as council has never had a sound system for its meetings it would provide a device to assist individuals who require accommodation and that the system may be relocated with some adjustment of wiring etc. if location was to change” said a report from Robyn Rogers clerk.

Council opted to remove the cost for the sound system from reserves.

The municipality will be applying for funding to replace South Wilberforce Bridge from the Canada Infrastructure Program.

Council approved the application to the ICIP which is prioritizing road bridge air and/or marine infrastructure projects that improve transportation infrastructure in its first intake. Municipalities under 100000 population are eligible to apply.

“The South Wilberforce Bridge has been identified as being in poor condition and recommended to be replaced within one to five years” says a report from Shannon Hunter CAO/treasurer. “The estimated cost to replace the current bridge from the structural engineer is approximately $650000. This cost does not include engineering or environmental assessments. It is further recommended that the municipality replaces the current one lane bridge with a two lane bridge.”

The ICIP application is for $1.4 million with the municipality promising to pay 6.67 per cent of that at a cost of $93380 if approved.

Financial software at a cost of $153160 was approved by council in an effort according to a report by Hunter to improve financial operational functions resolve continuing challenges with the current financial software and promote efficiencies and effectiveness in the workplace.

Hunter said software demonstrations from Diamond Municipal Solutions and Vadim Software took place on April 4.

“Administration and financial staff participated in the evaluation of the various modules which included property taxation accounts receivable cash receipting accounts payable payroll general ledger budgeting and reporting.”

Vadim Software was the cheaper option at $123454 but staff preferred Diamond Municipal Solutions for the “functions and future capabilities” according to Hunter.

The 2019 budget has $100000 allocated for the replacement of the software.

“To help offset the total cost of the software purchase staff are putting forth a recommendation for council consideration to utilize the additional monies the municipality received for our 2019 OMPF funding (additional $60500) as we did not budget or anticipate in receiving these monies for 2019” reads Hunter’s report.

The Cardiff Community Centre and Fire Hall roof replacement tender was released on April 4 and has a closing date of April 25. The tender is for the replacement of shingles for steel roofing.

The Cardiff swimming pool is planned to be opened on June 29 for a free swim. Lessons begin July 1 at the pool and beach weather permitting.

Three staff from 2018 are returning to the Cardiff swimming pool and two new applications have been received for lifeguard positions.