By Chris Drost
The following are news briefs from the Municipality of Dysart et al regular council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, held virtually.
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts is commending the Haliburton BIA for its work the past two years.
The mayor, who virtually attended the recent BIA annual general meeting, delivered her praise about the BIA and its dedicated members at the regular council meeting.
“It has been a difficult two years for them but they have been resilient,” she said.
She informed council that long-time BIA volunteer Nelly Ashworth, who served as its treasurer, most recently, will be stepping down after almost 20 years of service. BIA president Luke Schell will also be stepping down later this year. Roberts offered her thanks for their hard work.
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy also complimented the departing BIA members.
“I want to remind people that February is a hard time of year. Get out and enjoy the sunshine. I also want to thank Luke [Schell] and Nelly [Ashworth]. I am glad to see some younger people stepping up. The BIA is in good hands,” Kennedy said.
Potential for summer programming
Reporting on the West Guilford Hall Board, Councillor John Smith informed council that a meeting was held on Jan. 31. An application has been made by two women, one a retired teacher, for operating a summer day camp Monday to Friday and a special program on Saturdays at the West Guilford Hall.
“They were looking for feedback. They seem to be serious about it,” said Smith. They are looking into insurance. The board hopes to learn more in the next month.
Pickleball players got back into the swing of things at West Guilford Hall during the first week of February.
“We are looking forward to more events when we have better weather and people feel more comfortable,” Smith said.
Exhibition a winner
The first exhibition of the year at Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre, “Point of View,” was declared a winner.
“Sixty-five participants is huge. A lot of creative people in our community have been spending time doing creative things,” Councillor Larry Clarke said.
Now in its 59th year, the Haliburton Art and Craft Festival is currently planning for a return to an in-person event after two years when artists and craft people have had to rely on online sales.
Gallery curator Laurie Jones continues to lead a discussion group on Saturday mornings throughout the winter. The subject for March is “Outsider Art: Madness, Marginalization and Exploitation.”
The Craft Circle and Ukulele Circle have been operating online since before the beginning of the year and will continue that way until the weather improves. Some have found the online gatherings convenient. Drum Circles will resume in March with an in-person option by registration while Arts Council Haliburton will be offering community arts classes in 2022, with Rails End partnering as a venue for the classes.
Positives for the downtown
Councillor Nancy Wood-Roberts reported that the BIA is currently working on getting the flowers organized for the downtown. Discussions have taken place about patios in parking areas downtown. “The parking area for snowmobiles was packed over the weekend. This is very positive,” Wood-Roberts said, referring to Feb. 20 and 21.
The BIA had reached out to businesses on behalf of the municipality about having on-street patios in parking spaces in town. Three restaurants want to use the street. The municipality is looking at this as a “recovery activity,” explained CAO Tamara Wilbee. She asked if council would like to establish a fee for using the parking spaces for a patio.
“It will cost the municipality for a few parking spaces but that won’t mean anything if we lose businesses,” responded Clarke.
“Restaurants have been hardest hit. We should offer them at no cost in 2022,” Smith said.
Mayor Roberts said she is not sure if the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario) will extend the opportunity beyond 2022.
Deputy Mayor Kennedy asked whether lost revenues for the seven parking spots would be eligible for Restart Funding. Treasurer Barb Swannell explained that funds raised through parking on Highland Street go to the parking meter reserve.
“I would have to investigate if this would apply to Restart Funding,” she said.
Following the discussion, council approved a motion to allow these three full-service restaurants to use parking spaces for a patio extension for this year. Staff will contact the business owners through the BIA and will ask for a site plan that public works will review.
Trial for fee and charges for Welcome Centre
Andrea Mueller, manager of programs and events, presented the recommended Fee and Changes Bylaw for Haliburton Welcome Centre washroom fees for events. She explained that the length of an event and the number of attendees impacts the number of washrooms that are needed. Users of the park for events must sign a Park Use Agreement. For environmental and aesthetic reasons, you must rent all the Welcome Centre washrooms first before renting and bringing in other privies. Mueller explained that this year is a trial and that it will be monitored to see how things go.
“The only thing we might get flack on is if some washrooms are not open and people have to line up,” Roberts said. Mueller said that the fees have been set so it is not a huge increase to add additional toilets.
Smith thanked Mueller for the updates and adjustments.
“I think the new rates and mandatory use of our washrooms as the first option, makes a lot of sense. We need to stop apologizing for charging for use of this first-class facility. It is not unreasonable to recover some of our costs,” he said.
Mueller said that organizers of events will be asked to monitor the use of the toilets to see if further adjustments have to be made.
Council approved a motion to accept the new fee schedule as presented.