By Chris Drost
2021 will go down as a record-breaking year when it comes to construction values for Highlands East.
CBO Laurie Devolin reported that the to-date construction values for 2021 came in at $42,739,713, a huge jump from the $12,012,040 in 2020 during the Highlands East council regular monthly meeting on Jan. 18, held virtually.
During 2021 a total of 211 building permits were issued, including 52 for dwellings, an increase over the 192 issued in 2020. One permit was issued for a secondary suite and one for a dwelling 45 to 65 square metres.
“After changing the bylaw to allow for tiny homes and secondary suites, it is nice to see a couple of our residents applying for that,” Councillor Cam McKenzie said.
Additionally, 123 permits were issued for sewage systems and 25 Occupancy Certificates were issued, an increase by seven over the previous year. The total number of building inspections for December were 42, and septic inspections, five.
The planning department has had a busy year with 92 Zoning Compliance requests, 14 more than in 2020.
Fire chief Chris Baughman reported that there were 22 calls for service in December bringing the total for 2021 to 258, down from the 324 in 2020, but not too far off from years prior.
Due to the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant and the risk of losing a large portion of responders, if there was an exposure, Baughman made the decision to cancel all in-person training until Jan. 26. Online training is continuing.
With property supervisor Jim Alden’s absence, CAO/treasurer Shannon Hunter, presented the report on property and facilities . Due to the Omicron variant, all recreational facilities in the township are currently closed. According to Hunter, staff have been busy doing deep-cleaning and disinfecting the facilities to ensure safety for the users when things can reopen.
Staff have also been busy preparing the tender packages for the Cardiff Pool change room construction. It is expected that the packages will be ready within a week for publication.
Council approved the 2021/2022 water and sewer rates for ward one as set out in the financial plan.
Operations supervisor, Brett Charboneau gave an update on the plowing situation after the major snowfall on Jan. 17.
“I think we caught up with all our snow in one day,” he said to council. Public works has added a small sanding unit that will help with parking lots. “Well done to get a small sander in the back of the pick-up. You guys do an amazing job,” commented Councillor Cam McKenzie.
Last week, three new employees received training in snow plowing.
In response to the request from the Buckhorn Snowmobile Club to move the trail crossing in Gooderham, Charboneau confirmed that public works has no issues or concerns with it.
“Have you contacted adjacent landowners where they trail will be changed,” asked Councillor McKenzie. Charboneau informed council that this has not been done although there are a number of homes in the area.
Council approved a recommendation to enter into an agreement with Buckham Transport for household hazardous waste collection. Six vendors had registered for the bid but three did not proceed and Drain-All Ltd. did not complete a bid as they did not have the capacity in 2022 to handle additional events. Two vendors submitted bids, Brendar Environmental and Buckham Transport. The bids were reviewed and scored by representatives from the four municipalities with Buckham being selected because of its environmental practices, previous experience operating municipal drop-off sites, its lower labour, transportation and processing costs.
Under the finance report, Hunter explained that a RFP had been sent out in December for proponents to bid on developing an asset management plan. There were two responses, with the contract being awarded to Public Service Digest Citywide Inc. at a cost of $87,100. Much of this had been set aside in reserves.
“We will get the plan, software and training to implement it and meet new regulations,” explained Hunter.
The township office is currently closed to the public and anyone who can work from home is doing so, Hunter told council.
“Staff have been phenomenal,” she said. They have managed to keep people separated and keep services going. She offered accolades to all the staff.
“We are hitting the ground running,” she added. Weekly meetings are still being held online, work is continuing on election planning and preparing for tax billing.
Council appointed Councillor Suzanne Partridge as its representative on Haliburton’s new Community Action Plan Advisory Group.
Finally, the use of corporate resources such as logos and municipal emails during elections, was reviewed by Hunter. She said little had changed over previous years but the full policy will be posted on the municipal website.