The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Nov. 10 meeting of Highlands East council.
By Darren Lum
During a delegation, Cedar Lake Cottagers Association president Ron Parkinson asked the municipality to amend its bylaw to remove the need for level 1 inspections for property owners who have had their level 4 septic inspections done by certified inspectors as level 1 is less comprehensive.
Parkinson, who has been a cottager on Cedar Lake for 42 years, is leading the charge in Highlands East and said he wants options.
“Keep doing what you’re doing on the level 1, but, you know what, if I go and do a level 4 and submit that, you don’t need to come and see me and it’s the best for everybody because I know my septic tank is really done,” he said.
He said with level 1 testing, the tank isn’t being opened so it doesn’t provide a visual representation of the condition-related leaking. He referenced certified septic inspection company HomePro which discovered more than 40 examples of tank leakage in neighbouring Dysart.
“You would never find that even with a level 3. That’s proof for me that out of sight, out of mind, but, you know what, it’s an ugly thing, but you need to do it because it’s part of our business,” he said, referencing home ownership.
An inspection might reveal the need for minor repairs that cost a lot, but there could be overwhelming costs for major repairs if left unchecked.
Parkinson is firmly behind the cause, holding an open house where he had his septic system inspected under the level 4 criteria earlier this year. He invited neighbours on his lake, local cottage associations, Highlands East council members and the media to attend.
Level 4 testing ensures the health of the environment, enjoyment of lakes and that property values are maintained, he said.
Parkinson said many other residents like him on the lake agree, but stopped short of saying every single one of the 26 cottage owners does.
“It’s only an option. If I said it was mandatory then I would have to make sure I get complete support. So I have a lot of wide support from cottage associations and them saying, ‘We should be able to do that.’ And it’s demonstrated in Dysart, which I keep referring to, where Kennisis Lake and Redstone Lake are using it and their cottagers are saying, ‘We’re paying the difference. We want to do a level 4.’ How can you object to that?”
He said organizations such as the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association and Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations, both of which he is a long-time member, are advocates of ensuring lake health and provide members with resources to ensure the proper maintenance of septic systems.
He referenced the recent discovery of suspected blue-green algae blooms in lakes in Muskoka and in Haliburton County, which can be connected to a poorly functioning septic system. It’s part of his learning process and was a motivator for him to come to council.
“I’m learning as I’m going and what I’m learning is, you know what, for me to pay a couple hundred dollars when I’m getting my tank pumped out anyhow and finding out what the damage is and if it isn’t and then [be told to] keep doing what you’re doing [if it’s good]. That’s a comfort level, a piece of mind if you will,” he said.
Parkinson hopes council sees the benefit of his proposal.
Council did not comment at the meeting, but had already stated in correspondence with HomePro that they need to amend their bylaw and could not do that without a delegation.
“We will discuss and be back,” Mayor Dave Burton said.
Level 1 inspections have been performed by the township at no cost to property owners since 2017.
Cardiff pool work approved for $377,472
Town council approved work for repairs to the equipment and mechanical room, and the replacement of the change rooms and washrooms at the Cardiff pool.
The work will entail construction of an accessible bathroom and change room and includes adding a commercial grade pool liner, upgrading filtration, pool heater, the mechanical room ceiling, stairs and the concrete floor. Work is expected to start spring of 2021.
Councillor Cam McKenzie said he recognizes this project is a large sum of money, but sees great value for the community that goes beyond the dollars and cents.
“It’s difficult to put a value on a facility that has taught hundreds of kids to swim over the past few years. What’s the value of getting youth out of their homes, away from computer screens, video games and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and exercise? How about the seniors, who enjoy designated adult swim time? Once again fresh air, sunshine and exercise,” he said.
He adds there is also a social benefit to everyone and that this facility is not only used by Cardiff residents, but residents in the surrounding area.
Councillors asked about lowering costs by delaying certain parts of the work, but it was agreed that the current price is likely to rise, as access to materials could become challenging due to the pandemic.
Councillor Suzanne Partridge was concerned there were only tenders from one company for each segment of the project. However, she agreed with McKenzie on authorizing the work.
“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it and we’ll do it properly and we’ll do it all,” she said.
Deer Creek Bridge is complete
The emergency work to repair the Deer Creek Bridge’s footing foundation performed by Planmac Engineering for $127,000 plus HST is complete, a report by CAO Shannon Hunter states. The work was required after the footings became a safety concern after being eroded as the result of the creek flow and loss of soil and rock, mostly at the southeast end and to a lesser extent the northwest corner of the bridge. The costs will be covered from the township’s reserves.