Construction is booming in Highlands East

By Darren Lum

The following are briefs from the April 13 Highlands East meeting.

Laurie Devolin, chief building official for the township, said the numbers are showing a lot of building activity when compared to last year.
“As I said last month, we just are on a roll with people who are moving to the area,” she said.

Building permits doubled with 30 permits compared to the 15 permits of last year, including growth with related septic inspections. The construction values for this time of the year has more than doubled at $2,905,444 compared to last year’s $1,341,590.

Efficiency improved at building department
Customer service is expected to improve with a new citizen portal option following the purchase of new building permit software, Cloudpermit. It will also provide building inspectors with added tools in the field for inspection reports and assist with the submission of monthly reports. The reason behind the software purchase was related to the higher demands for service, which has been caused by the pandemic.

The citizen’s online portal is where people can go online and create an account and submit an application with all the requirements such as drawings, site plan, etc.

This software’s annual subscription will be paid for with funding approved through the capital forecast.

Deputy Mayor Cecil Ryall said, “I wanted this for you guys for I don’t how long. God knows you deserve it. The numbers you’re showing us more than warranted [it].”

Devolin adds staff welcome this software because of how it does not allow incomplete applications to be submitted.

“That has always been a bit of a problem. Especially now when people aren’t coming into the office and they’re submitting online, or through Dropbox that quite often we don’t get a complete application. So this should really help our citizens to make sure that they have everything and for us to get a complete application,” she said.

Devolin adds staff have the ability to review applications online, there is also a mobile feature, which allow access to information and submit inspection reports to contractors and to their clients.

Ryall said, “It’s music. Absolute music.”

Registration required for Centre Lake MNRF reserve meeting
Anyone interested in attending the virtual public
meeting on April 27, or want to present a delegation, or have a question answered must register with the township. People will be limited to five minutes each to address council and there will not be an opportunity to make a powerpoint presentation. These rules will allow several delegations to be included. This alters slightly from the procedural bylaw, but is only for this meeting. Requests for delegations and submission of questions must be submitted two days prior to the meeting. Contact the municipal clerk, Robyn Rogers at or by telephone at 705-448-2981 ext. 422.

HE moving forward with EV station
As part of a Haliburton County and the lower tier municipalities initiative, Highlands East has selected the turn-key approach instead of the ownership option towards adding an EV charging station at the Lloyd Watson Memorial Centre.

It provided funding certainty because it will not only take advantage of Natural Resources Canada funding, which has been granted to the delivery organization of Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation under the Ivy Network, but it does not require “high upfront capital costs,” installation of the stations will be quicker, the Ivy Network will take care of installation, maintenance and operations.

As written for the turn-key approach, “This funding requires installation of the charging stations this year. While there was no firm deadline provided for municipalities to determine the location and number of sites that they wish to proceed with under this option, it was confirmed with the delivery organization that a decision on the number of stations and locations must be made in April 2021 to proceed with the work that is required prior to construction.

For both options, all revenue is transferred to the municipality, which “typically only covers the cost of electricity use by the station.”

Highlands East CAO Shannon Hunter said with option one there is the potential to match what the township has already budgeted.

“We could double our money. For example, if we put in so much money, the application could possibly double that. It could provide the opportunity where we have more than one charging station and the reason this is coming forward is this is some of the climate change protocols or suggestions that have come forward in the past year,” Hunter said.

Fire Safety Grant will enhance fire department
Highlands East fire chief Chris Baughman said taking the initiative on applying for grant money has benefited the local department.

Baughman secured provincial funding for challenges associated with training, and inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic by applying and accepting $5,400 from the Fire Safety Grant program in principal pending council approval. He went ahead without approval because of a tight timeline related to its March 11 deadline.

This money, which was part of a one time $5 million provincial grant.
Baughman said he requested the funding for “use in our inspection program by implementing a records management and inspection software. This will ensure that inspections and the documentation are being recorded and stored effectively.”

This was calculated with a base-rate of $4,500 per municipality with additional funds allocated by population. The money must be spent by Aug. 1, 2021 and a report with how the grant was used be sent back to the fire marshal is required by Sept. 1, 2021.