Highlands East to sell composters and digesters

The following are brief reports of items discussed during a July 9 meeting of Highlands East council.

By Sue Tiffin

Highlands East and Dysart et al municipalities will make a joint purchase to reduce the unit costs of composters and digesters which will be resold to the public at cost in an effort to divert organic waste from landfill sites.

“Composters are well known although not necessarily well used” reads a report from Joanne Vanier economic development co-ordinator. “They are effective ways of diverting garden and some kitchen waste from the landfill to create usable garden compost. A lesser known but highly effective unit is the digester. In contrast to the composter there is no finished product. Instead a large variety of organic waste including meats bones dairy vegetables and cooked foods breaks down to liquid form and leaches into the ground aided by worms and insects.”

At their June 13 meeting the environment advisory committee recommended to Highlands East council the purchase of 40 composters and 25 digesters.

“Information is being sent to the other municipalities through the Joint Environment Committee for them to consider joining in” reads Vanier’s report noting the order will not be placed until after Algonquin Highlands and Minden Hills have made a decision in case of potential additional cost savings.

Compost bins would cost approximately $31.50 each plus shipping for an order of 80 and a total order cost of $3070 to be divided between the two municipalities. Digesters would cost approximately $69 each plus shipping for an order of 50 and a total order cost of $3745 to be divided between the two municipalities. If Algonquin Highlands and Minden Hills do not join the program the cost to Highlands East would be $3407 plus applicable taxes.

The funds for the composters and digesters would come from the Environment Advisory Committee’s reserve funds which would be reimbursed as units are sold.

CAO and treasurer Shannon Hunter questioned where the bins would be stored and also said the municipal fees and charges bylaw would need to be updated prior to selling the units.

“I think this is a really important move for us” said Councillor Suzanne Partridge noting it is fairly simple to update the fees and charges bylaw. She pointed out what she called “one really big benefit” of the digesters which is that everything from animal waste to bones to leaves can be diverted to them and that they are bear-proof.

Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall said once the storage solution was decided the process for purchase and pick up would not be complicated.

Hunter said she wouldn’t want to see municipal employees travelling between towns to pick up and deliver the units.

Ryall said residents could schedule an appointment and pick it up.

Partridge said the logistics could be worked out and she hoped council would make a decision to pass the recommendation that day.

Ryall agreed saying the logistics of pickup would be a challenge that needed to be dealt with but shouldn’t hold anything up.

A source for blue boxes will also be researched.

Insurance renewal sees 47 per cent increase over last year

Council’s 2019/2020 insurance renewal through BFL Canada comes at a cost of $226644 plus applicable taxes.

“Due to a significant claim pay out in 2019 the municipality is seeing a premium increase much larger than was originally anticipated” said Brittany McCaw deputy CAO/treasurer in her report to council. “The municipality is looking at an overall increase of 47 per cent over last year’s premium amount ($159184).”

According to McCaw’s report BFL Canada has provided insurance coverage to the municipality since 2010 and has held various risk mitigation training and information sessions for staff and also allows the municipality to provide liability insurance coverage for user groups who rent or use municipal facilities that may not otherwise have insurance coverage.

“As the municipality is required to have insurance coverage and with an insurance renewal date of July 1 2019 staff are recommending that we continue with coverage from BFL Canada” reads McCaw’s report. “Staff will be preparing to go out to market with a new proposal for the 2020 year.”

The report says that while all departmental budgets included an increase in the 2019 budget over 2018 premiums that increase didn’t account for the unexpected premium increase.

Septic program moving on to Contau Lake

According to student septic maintenance inspectors Jonas Hill and Dylan Smith almost 300 properties were inspected between May 7 and July 2 on Upper Paudash Lake as part of the municipality’s septic maintenance inspection program. Of those properties 153 were considered low risk 64 were considered moderate risk 63 were considered high risk and 16 were deemed very high risk. Inspections will next take place at properties on Contau Lake. Program letters and property questionnaires have been sent to Esson and Little Esson Lake residences.

Councillor Cec Ryall said he would like to see a monthly update posted online for the public – including lake associations – to see.

Signs throughout municipality to be consistent promote assets

Municipal signage throughout Highlands East has an inconsistent design is deteriorating or doesn’t exist where it should according to a partial audit conducted by the economic development advisory committee.

“For example Highlands East maintains more than 30 boat launches on beautiful lakes large and small throughout the municipality” reads a report to council by Joanne Vanier economic development co-ordinator. “Yet a large number of these are unknown to visitors – and locals – as they have little and in many cases no signage. The result is a lack of public recognition of valuable municipal assets.”

The committee has recommended implementing the first stage of a municipal sign policy focusing on municipal amenity identification wayfinding signage and international information and regulatory signage.

“The purpose of the sign policy document is to create clear guidelines on the formatting of all signage produced for Highlands East to provide clear directional and identification elements for visitors and residents” said Vanier’s report. “Through consistent messaging the signage will ensure identification of the municipality and guidance to communities and key destinations and attractions.”

Deteriorating signage will be replaced while signage not in place will be installed in the upcoming months while in the future the committee will look at signage for community buildings.

“I’m totally impressed with the amount of work that has gone into this” said Councillor Cam McKenzie.

The municipality has allocated $40000 in funds to be used on signage by March 2020.

A ‘busier’ year for the building department in Highlands East

Eighty-six building permits have been issued to date in the municipality this year compared to 68 last year at this same time. In total construction values are up to $5417175 compared to $6028020 last year.

“Even though last year was really busy this year is even busier” said Laurie Devolin chief building official.

Cardiff pool pump replaced

A new pool pump for the Cardiff swimming pool costing $6850 will be paid for with money from the pool reserve after the filter pump for the Cardiff pool failed on June 21.

“Following a thorough inspection of the pump by the pump shop where the pump was purchased it was determined that a new pump was necessary on an emergency basis” read a report by Stewart Hurd environmental supervisor. “This would ensure as little disruption to the summer pool program as possible.”

Mayor Dave Burton thanked Hurd for his quick response to the situation.

Waste Wizard app offered

Highlands East is joining Algonquin Highlands in launching a waste wizard web app for residents and visitors sharing the costs and services of the waste management information tool.

“The municipality is in need of a tool that will assist with a desired increase in diversion and reduction in contamination by providing residents with informative up-to-date waste information” reads a report by Stewart Hurd environmental supervisor.

The waste wizard app has an annual subscription costing $2875 per year which can be split amongst surrounding municipalities who opt in to using the program. To date Algonquin Highlands and

Highlands East have expressed interest in the app and a partnership in using it.

“So it’s just the two of us sitting on this and the other two have chosen not to I gather” said Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall.

“For this year yes” replied Hurd.

Beautification projects presented

The recreation and culture advisory committee is ready to commit some of the community beautification fund to projects in three communities.

In Tory Hill a photo op sign at the edge of the park will feature a black and white photo of George and Elizabeth Coumbs from 1897 superimposed over a colour aerial photo of Tory Hill allowing for visitors to put their faces through cut out spaces. The sign including frame and platform will cost approximately $1150 plus tax.

Four metal sunflower artwork pieces at an approximate cost of $400 will complement the dragonfly theme established 20 years ago in Cardiff and will hang on brackets on posts where flower planters were previously hung eventually alongside dragonfly artwork.

And in Gooderham the Gooderham Community Action Group is planning on hanging six medium-sized banners and one large banner on post brackets commissioned through a local artist for an approximate cost of $200.

A painted bench project for Highland Grove will also be presented when further information is available.