The following news briefs from the Highlands East Council regular meeting on Feb. 8, held virtually.
By Chris Drost
When it comes time to vote in this fall’s municipal elections, voters in Highlands East will be able to carry out their public duty from the comfort of their own homes.
Highlands East awarded the contract for an internet/telephone voting system for the 2022 municipal election and school board election to Scytl Canada Inc. at the regular meeting.
Following approval by council in May 2021 to proceed with internet and telephone voting for the 2022 municipal and school board election, staff developed a request for proposal. The resulting report was reviewed on Dec. 14, 2021.
The approximate cost for the internet and phone voting will be $2.75 plus HST per voter.
All four of the local municipalities have now chosen Scytl Canada Inc. as the successful proponent for the 2022 Internet/Telephone Voting System.
“You know I was leery of this back in the day. What will we do to ensure there will be enough education on this?” asked Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall. Clerk Robyn Rogers explained that most of the education will come from the municipalities. There will be information sessions, advertising and a brochure that will go out with the Highlands East tax bill. The step-by-step process will also be on the website.
“We realize the low coverage of internet but we believe most people have a telephone,” Rogers said.
The municipal clerks will be meeting regularly and will set up a schedule for information sessions.
Exponential growth for building permits
Under the Building Department Report, CBO and bylaw enforcement officer Laurie Devolin reported that four building permits and two occupancy permits had already been issued since the start of the new year. A total of 38 building inspections and two septic inspections were carried out in January.
The number of permits was only up by one over this time in 2021, but the construction value to-date for 2022 is $1,958,800 compared to this time in 2021 when it was $27,100.
“The number of permits is higher but I assume it is the value of the properties that are driving the numbers up,” asked Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall. “Yes, everything is moving in that direction. People are moving here, turning cottages into permanent residences. The price of materials has gone up plus people are building higher end buildings. We have significantly increased the value of what is being constructed in Highlands East,” Devolin explained.
“Do you foresee any challenges in service delivery?” asked Ryall. Devolin explained that getting documentation in was a challenge last year, but she does not foresee any issues with service delivery this year. “Keep up the good work,” responded Ryall.
Home sea (container) home
Under the Bylaw Report presented by bylaw enforcement officer Wayne Galloway, Ryall asked if the municipality has any provisions for turning sea containers into homes.
“Does our bylaw allow that?” he asked.
Galloway says sea containers are not allowed in certain zones such as shorelines.
“You need a building permit if you want to convert a sea container to a home. The building department would have to address it,” he added.
Getting the word out?
Environmental supervisor Meghan Lockwood took the opportunity to update the council about the boil water advisory that was issued in Cardiff on Feb. 3 when there was a loss of power at the water station. The issue was resolved and the boil water advisory was removed on Saturday, Feb. 5. There were problems with the generator that have since been resolved.
“I think staff did an excellent job in getting the word out. It is not easy to get the word out on a Saturday that [the boil water advisory] had been lifted. Maybe we need to think of a better way to get it out,” suggested Councillor Cameron McKenzie.
McKenzie suggested the use of Moose FM radio for such announcements as they are often used by the Town of Bancroft.
“Except it wouldn’t work on weekends when it [the radio program] is taped,” he said.
Ryall asked about the possibility of adding a fingerboard to the sign in Cardiff when something like a boil water advisory is in effect.
“Megan [Lockwood] has already got a plan in place for advising people through social media. We are trying to promote technological ways to notify people instead of doing things that require staff to come out beyond regular working hours,” CAO/treasurer, Shannon Hunter said.
Lockwood informed council that they have been experiencing heavier flows of water than usual and so public education around reducing water usage is being planned.
“Do you think people still leave a tap running so pipes don’t freeze?” asked McKenzie.
Lockwood explained that this would be something that could be addressed through public education. “You only need flow as wide as a pencil [to keep the pipes from freezing],” she said.
Lockwood also reported that they have received the final inspection reports for both Cardiff and Dyno Drinking Water Systems from the Ministry of the Environment from inspections done last fall. Both systems had one non-compliance, which have since been resolved.
Winter maintenance looking good
There was good news from Brett Charboneau, operations supervisor at Public Works.
“The sand is holding up and I think we should have enough for the rest of the season,” he said. The new sander in the truck is working well and they are finally back to full complement of staff after lots of illness and others in isolation due to COVID-19.
There have been people breaking into the landfill site after hours resulting in damage to the gates and shacks.
“We would like to look at cameras again after ensuring we follow the privacy policies. This is something we are going to look at this year,” Charboneau said.
Under the Property and Facilities Report, property supervisor Jim Alden reported that staff have completed the deep cleaning of facilities. They have also been very busy with snow removal and walkway maintenance. A new part-time staff member, Kiel Dynes, was welcomed on Jan. 31. All facilities, including the arena are now open for business again and are being used at half-capacity until further notice.
Council also spent time reviewing the revised cemetery price list that will be included on the municipality’s Stone Orchard cemetery software. The list will also be provided to all funeral homes and monument companies that have done business with the municipality in the past year.