HE Council approves new pre-consultation bylaw and fee

The following are news briefs from the regular meeting of council held on June 14.

By Chris Drost

Following the lead of other municipal jurisdictions, Highlands East council has approved a new bylaw that will include a nominal pre-consultation fee for applications to the Building Department. Junior planner, Kim Roberts, informed council that they already have a mechanism in place but it is optional. With the new pre-consultation bylaw, drawings can be received and comments made before a formal application. This means that once it goes to council, they will have all the information they need to make a decision.
“We have found that over the last couple of years applications have become more complex,” Roberts said.
Under the new procedures, council would still have any opportunity to see pre-consultations as part of the public record.
“What is the definition of a nominal fee?” asked Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall. Roberts replied that it would be $450, the same amount used by other municipalities.
Ryall also questioned if this fee would make things more efficient, or just add $450 to the bill. In response, CAO, Shannon Hunter explained that for most applications, fees are not being captured and are being covered under the costs of the planning department.
The new pre-consultation bylaw was approved by council and will be implemented on Aug. 1.

Changes to site plan approvals
As of July 1, councils can no longer make decisions about site plan approvals. All municipalities are having to make updates to their policies. In the case of Highlands East, no changes have been made to the policies since 2006.
In future, site plan approvals will be approved by the CAO or junior planner with written recommendations by the municipal planner.
Some of the changes are for accessory dwelling units, which will now be subject to site plan control. Cannabis facilities were also added. At council’s discretion, site control for protecting shorelines with the closure and conveyance of shore road allowances was also added.
Building Department applications have dropped
Compared to 2021, applications to the Building Department have dropped year-over-year. A total of 65 building permits have been issued to-date in 2022, compared to 81 at this point in 2021. The construction values to-date in 2022 are $9,938,028, well under the $15,819,539 at this time last year.

Warmer weather brings more fire calls
“It is busier now summer is here,” said fire chief Chris Baughman during his monthly report to council. There were 31 calls for service in May, and a total of 100 to-date for the year. The largest percentage of calls, a little more than half, were for medical calls, accidents, illness, heart attacks, etc.

Process underway to fill Cardiff pool
Property supervisor, Jim Alden reported that staff has been busy getting all the properties prepared for the busy summer season. Besides cutting grass, the basketball court in Highland Grove is being repaired and a new concrete base is to be poured. The walking bridge in Gooderham has also been repaired. Trail inspections have been started, with more to be done in the coming weeks. The process is underway to fill the Cardiff pool although staffing challenges will mean the schedule will be different than previous years. Hunter added that the schedule will be ready this week and they will be selling pool passes.
Ryall noted that Gooderham will be holding Canada Day and a Musical Festival in August and inquired about the condition of the barbecues that have not been used for two years. Alden said he would add them to their “to do” list.
HE Water Use Bylaw now in effect
Hunter informed council that the spring hydrant flushing has been completed. The municipal Water Use Bylaw is now in effect and is posted on the website. They are trying to promote it so everyone is aware of the regulations. There have been some issues of people filling private pools without the required municipal approval.

Cardiff Sewage Operation Review Report released
Hunter highlighted some of the conclusions reached in the report and advised that staff will be working towards all the recommendations and will report back to council on progress as they are able.
Councillor Cam McKenzie expressed increasing concern about the capacity with the increase in heavy rain events. It reached 95 per cent capacity in 2021.
“We have an extremely aged system. We have the collection system, the processing piece and disbursement piece. Regardless of how much we do, there is a limit. If we go forward, we need to consider a major investment in 2023 if we are going to continue to provide water and sewage services to this area,” said Deputy Mayor Ryall.

Roads getting much needed surface treatment
Public Works operational manager, Abby Armstrong reported that the surface treatment has been started on West Eels Road and Dyno Road and line painting will be scheduled once it is complete. The South Wilberforce Bridge is within budget and on schedule for completion in the next few weeks. Paving and guardrails were to be done during the week of the council meeting, with plans for the bridge to open the following week.
Grading and calcium application will be done on Abrams Road, Lewis Road and Malcolm Road as weather permits. Fortesque Lake Road will have grading and calcium application by the end of the month.
It is good news for Wilberforce as the work on the much-anticipated Herlihey Park is expected to commence in June.
“I was happy to see in your report that the Re-Use Centre is open. Maybe staff can put it on social media and in the newspaper to promote it,” said Councillor Suzanne Partridge.
“I have a recurring nightmare about Universal Road. The municipality owns it but another looks after it at the moment,” explained McKenzie. Residents have been telling him that not a lot is happening there to resolve the problems. “I would ask that it be investigated,” he said.
Hunter explained that there is a Boundary Road Agreement with Dysart et al for services on Universal Road. “We have a bylaw in place,” said Hunter.
“Unfortunately, Highlands East residents are the ones with the problem. Something is not happening the way it is supposed to,” Ryall said.

Visitor Information Centre now open
The Visitor Information Centre is now open and summer (student) staff will be starting on July 1. “This will allow us to increase our hours,” said economic development coordinator, Joanne Vanier.
The Paudash Trail Blazers have asked for permission to remove a few trees along the trail by Lagoon Road. The organization had an agreement with the landowner who is now in the process of selling his property. He has asked that the trail be moved off his property. There is a simple fix to straighten the trail between Lagoon Road and Footbridge Road but there is some question about whether or not the trees to be removed are on the township’s 66-foot road allowance. “We need to make sure that anything removed is on the 66-foot road allowance and we would need a survey,” explained Hunter.
Vanier will follow up to see if there is a survey and will bring it back to council in July for a decision.

Service Delivery Committee progressing
Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall reports that there have been some great strides made by the Service Delivery Committee at the County of Haliburton. Under Economic Development, work is being carried out on the Haliburton County Destination Plan, an economic development strategy, a COVID-19 recovery plan, a county-wide profile, a plan for a county-wide building enforcement department, a plan for digitizing records – a five-year integrated digital strategy, a procurement initiative as it has been difficult to fill positions, a “green fleet” program for roads and bridges, a county-wide entrance permit policy has been drafted and a Master Transportation Plan is being investigated. Additionally, an Emergency Management Plan and staff training plan is being developed for the county and individual departments within the municipalities. Under Waste Management, household hazardous waste days are already underway and an integrated waste management program is being developed. The county is also assisting in implementing a blue box program.

Accolades for admin staff
“Accolades to staff for doing what they can to maintain services,” said Hunter. She explained that there has been a lot of “juggling” going on because of staff vacancies. “I am pretty proud of the working group,” she added.
With the summer here, Hunter says everyone is busy and would like to resume all the recreational activities. They are trying to ensure everything is in place.
Hunter is also busy updating the Asset Management Plan. Human resources continue to occupy a lot of her time, although she says, “this is an Ontario-wide situation.” As people move there have become more vacancies.
The clerk is very busy with plans for the upcoming municipal election, accessibility and cemeteries.