Highlands East tackles long list of zoning amendment requests

Highlands East council met virtually on the morning of Oct. 12 where the busy agenda included department monthly reports, a number of zoning amendment requests from private landowners, and a public planning meeting.

By Chris Drost

Building Department
Tracy Evans, building department administrative assistant presented the Monthly Operations Report for September. A total of 165 building permits have been issued to-date in 2021, 45 for dwellings and 12 for other. This is an increase over 135 permits issued in 2020. This year, 95 sewage system permits have been issued compared to 71 in 2020. There have been 87 final inspections to-date. The construction values to-date for 2021 are $32,630,714, compared to $8,705,990 last year.

Property and Facilities
Jim Alden, property supervisor, reported that the Cardiff pool officially closed for the season on Aug. 28. A total of six single passes and three family passes were sold. In addition, there were 62 admissions to the pool during the month of July and 162 in August, resulting in a total of $1,660 in revenue. The ice is in at the Keith Tallman Memorial Arena and it officially opened on Oct. 2, with league play beginning Oct. 7 with COVID-19 protocols in place.

Megan Lockwood, environmental supervisor, reported that a leak was repaired on the service line going to the arena in Wilberforce on Sept. 27 with McInroy Maines contracted to complete the repair. International Water Supply Ltd. started the repair work on Well 1 in Cardiff on Oct. 5. The portable diesel pump was used on Sept. 23 to assist during the high flows caused by the recent rain storm at the end of September. Fall hydrant flushing in Cardiff is set to take place between Oct. 18 and 29.

Public Works
Due to all the recent rain, Brett Charboneau, operations supervisor, reported that all roads will be re-graded. Winter sand stockpiling has been completed and all the domes are full. The trucks and plows are being serviced to be ready for mid-month while three fire trucks and one tandem plow are to be safety inspected this month. Two new monitoring wells have been completed at the Tory Hill waste site. West Eels Road has been pulverized and graded but they are still awaiting the contractor for surface treatment. There have been delays due to the weather. All staff have updated certificates for first aid and a co-op student has been busy working with roads or other jobs in the shop.

Economic Development
Economic development coordinator, Joanne Vanier, summarized the data from the Visitor Information Centre. During the month of September there were 111 in-person visits and 20 phone enquiries. Of those, 55 per cent were tourists, 23 per cent were seasonal residents and 22 per cent, permanent residents. This month their main enquiries were about geocaching, followed by mineral collecting and trails. The Visitor Information Centre is now closed for the season while the information kiosks will be packed up soon for the winter. Geocaches will be maintained as required and trail counters will continue to collect data through October and then will be removed for the winter.

Council accepted the recommendation for a Land Acknowledgement Statement that will be used at all future council meetings, functions and events, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. The wording will be as follows:
“We respectfully acknowledge that the community of the Municipality of Highlands East is located on the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig territory and in the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations, which include: Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations.” The community of the Municipality of Highlands East respectfully acknowledges that the Williams Treaties First Nations are the stewards and caretakers of these lands and waters in perpetuity, and that they continue to maintain this responsibility to ensure their health and integrity for generations to come.”

The Planning Report, presented by junior planner, Kim Roberts, noted that zoning and development inquiries for potential purchasers remains high and inquiries regarding commercial recreational uses of vacant land (camping, glamping etc.) have been consistent throughout the month of September.
Council addressed a number of requests for zoning amendments from private landowners and requests for shoreline allowance purchases.
Council recommended that staff enter into discussions with Rogers Communications Inc. regarding a suitable communications tower near Cardiff. Spectra Point Inc., who act for Rogers Communications Inc., have contacted the municipality with a proposal to lease municipal land outside of the Cardiff townsite for one of these new cell tower sites. The parcel of land is an 86-acre vacant parcel north of Highway 118 and west of the ball diamond off of Monck Road.
Rogers Communications Inc. would pay rent in the amount of $1,000 per month and would be responsible for their own utility costs, the construction of access to the chosen site, and any maintenance costs for the tower site would be at their cost. A proposed site would come back for council’s consideration and approval prior to any agreement being entered into. The municipality would receive $12,000 per year in rental income from the use of the property.

County Council Report
Deputy Mayor Cecil Ryall provided a verbal report from County Council.
The Library Board had a special meeting on Sept. 27 and it is now in the process of developing a new strategic plan.
Deputy Mayor Ryall had the pleasure of meeting the new CEO in Haliburton, Chris Stephenson, and he looks forward to working with him and hopes he can come and introduce himself to the Highlands East council.
The shoreline presentation on Sept. 29 gave a good overview to the proposed bylaw. It clarified the difference between a setback (a legal distance in a bylaw with nothing to do with ecology) and a buffer zone, which does impact ecology. According to Deputy Mayor Ryall, they seem to be moving towards a 30-metre buffer zone. The feedback from those attending was that the wording in the current proposed bylaw is not acceptable to most people and that they had some serious concerns about it. Some of those concerns were the out-of-pocket costs, the timelines and the need for inventories of such things as Indigenous plantings and trees. There was also concern that the setbacks were focused on new development when 80 per cent of the lakes are already developed, and the proposed bylaw does not address that. It is expected that the new bylaw will potentially be very different from the proposed one. County council will be getting an update on next steps.