Dysart will seek legal expertise regarding Policy 32
The following are news briefs from the Municipality of Dysart et al regular council meeting held on April 26, held virtually.
By Darren Lum
Time is being given to landowners who want to apply to use road allowances after a long discussion came out of a pair of applications for licenses of use, which included one for permission to use a road allowance and a joint-application for occupation to use an original allowance for a road.
It was clear from Dysart council’s discussion these requests have greater ramifications that will apply to future applications and has prompted an examination of the relevant Policy 32. Council said they will not allow a long-term license, but will extend the opportunity to apply for a license of occupation for the duration of one year where landowners provide the liability insurance and the $500 non-refundable administration fee for a license.
Dysart Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy said it’s important to give people “a bit of a break”
Mayor Andrea Roberts said, who acknowledged how she is not returning to council next term, recognizes the complication with the implementation of Policy 32.
“I think we’re in muddy waters and I think there are other situations like this that we really need to go get to the bottom and ensure the policy 32 is correct and we might actually at this time next year revoke all licenses of occupation and that’s just the way it goes,” Mayor Andrea Roberts said. “We might get that. We have that prerogative.”
Per Dysart, Policy 32 is a policy to govern the use of road allowance, which states that the municipality will not generally permit use of an unopened road allowance, which leads to water for any building or structure, including dock. However, council may recognize the historic use of an unopened road allowance, which leads to water, for a private dock only, subject to certain conditions.
Ward 5 Councillor Walt McKechnie concurred with Roberts about exercising patience and understanding in this situation, particularly with the coming boating season and recognize how life during the pandemic has affected everyone.
“Let’s give these people some time. Needless to say there is proof that the docks been there a long time. So, let’s give them some time to try to iron this out and get it corrected,” he said.
He added it’s a “big can of worms for sure.”
Dysart clerk Mallory Bishop reminded council about historic use in Policy 32.
“The [current] policy only applies to the owners that have been there since the 70s. Right, so it’s a good point to remember that proof that a dock is physically located there when it wasn’t originally your dock that doesn’t apply in this situation. So the ownership has changed since that original dock. So, again, if council wanted to change that policy it would just say that right extends to future owners. But that’s not the way the policy is written currently. So it’s something to keep in mind when we’re talking about historical ownership,” she said.
Roberts said it’s important to find consistency with the application of this policy.
Ward 4 Councillor John Smith called this approach for public road allowance “haphazard” granting of access for public property.
“It’s favouring a few. People who don’t actually pay waterfront taxes haven’t made the investment in the incremental cost of waterfront property. Those people have access to 28 public boat launches throughout Dysart. Areas that are maintained for use by the public,” he said.
He adds these agreements giving private landowners access are “special privileges for a few, frankly, at the expense of the vast majority of people.”
Earlier in the discussion, there was discussion about seeking legal advice with the application of Policy 32.
Smith contended legal advice on Policy 32 isn’t needed when it was already offered with one of the applications. He didn’t believe the costs associated were warranted when it was already presented.
Roberts said it’s Dysart’s responsibility to seek out independent legal advice on Policy 32 is to ensure everyone is treated fairly when it comes to road allowance access.
“It’s going to be money well spent, because this is not an uncommon problem. In light of the fact that we have a liability, I’m actually trying to protect the municipality and be fair to the people who have docks there for some time. How long and who owned what? We don’t 100 per cent know? But they certainly weren’t put up there in the last couple of years. So, in that case, that is why I’m proposing that we do a license of occupation for one year while we review policy 32 and get legal opinion. And this time next year, council can say there are no docks on an open road allowance to water, simple,” she said.
The process is underway to examine policy 32 as a result of the discussion.
The township’s director of planning and land information, Jeff Iles was directed by council to start the public notification process towards the public consultation process as outlined in policy 32 and to return for an agreement and bylaw at a future meeting.
Letter of intent for P4P
Dysart is nearing the finalization of the letter of intent with Places for People for the affordable housing development on Wallings Road. Among the amendments included agreeing to the first right of refusal and a one-year extension to the exclusivity period in recognition the process may take longer than expected due to opposition to the development. Back in March, the council reviewed the draft letter of intent. Council will provide direction to amend the letter to include the changes as recommended and council will provide direction to prepare agreement of purchase and sale including recommended conditions. A bylaw will be presented at a future meeting to approve the letter of intent and the agreement of purchase and sale.
The Fleming residence site plan authorized
Staff highlighted a few items since the March 25 special council meeting asking council to consider recommendations of amendment to site-plan for the residence development, which included the material used for the parking lot, sidewalk contributions, securities for the development, and approval of the changes to the site-plan agreement.
Fleming College’s director, physical resources, Terry Williams said after a meeting with the Glebe Park committee and team members for Fleming College did a walk through, which included looking at open spaces, and the storm water management and seeing the entire watershed, and came to the conclusion “that the asphalt surfacing is the most environmentally friendly and most controllable way to manage the watershed on property, but besides that it was a great meeting.”
Councillor Smith noted how he was not part of the walk-through and said he was in favour of permeable surface. He was “shocked” about the idea that a permeable surface would cost four times that of a asphalt surface, citing the example of a permeable surface at the Minden Animal Hospital.
Sidewalk contributions will be waived because of how there are not any connecting sidewalks in the area. No securities are required of the college’s residence site plan agreement, despite the college initially offering $25,000 for securities. It was noted that securities did not apply to the original build of the Haliburton campus building. Project Advisor with Prism Partners Inc., Susan Conner highlighted how the college’s investment of close to $19 million after the four phases are completed warrants the waiving of securities. Kennedy also notes this investment to justify waiving securities.
Council approved the changes to the site-plan agreement. Pending permit approvals, the residence is planned to start construction in 2023.
Roberts acknowledged how the budget has doubled during the process for the residence project and is appreciative of the collaborative spirit, but noted the changes influencing the added expenses were necessary to meet the needs of the township.
“Before I look for a mover and seconder, I just want to thank everyone on screen, but all the people not on screen your board of directors for the times you’ve gone back to them to ask for more money. Sorry, but it’s part of the process. Sorry, not sorry. I think what I said is we’re really doing the best for the college, but we represent Dysart and we’re doing the best for Dysart and it just couldn’t be more timely. I really hope you get your building permits in January of 2023 and I can walk through the park and to see construction to begin with the college residence because otherwise people are going to want to attend and not be able t find a place to stay here. So, that is a big concern,” she said.
Council voted in favour of authorizing the execution of an amended site-plan agreement, as reflected by council’s direction.
Lame Duck period ahead
As of nomination day (Aug.19), Dysart will enter the period of what is known as the “lame duck” period when council can not appoint or remove from office of any officer of the municipality, hire or dismiss any employee, dispose of any real or personal property of the municipality, which has a value exceeding $50,000 at the time of disposal, and make any expenditure or incur any liability exceeding $50,000. The last meeting for council before the lame duck period will be in July. Once in the lame duck period the CAO and treasurer will assume “restricted powers.”
“So, we are very fortunate we have an outstanding CAO and treasurer,” Roberts said. “We fully trust your capabilities in that time.”