Highlights of MV Council meeting including 2021 water rates

Members of Madawaska Valley Council met in Committee on April 6th to hear reports from all municipal departments. Here are some noteworthy items.

Water and Wastewater budget and rates approved

MV Treasurer Amanda Hudder presented the draft drinking water budget saying it represents a 2 percent increase in the cubic metre rate. This brings the cost to $4.77 per cubic metre or $71.55 per quarter for the minimum of 15 cubic metres. In other words, residents on the water system will pay 9 cents more per cubic metre or $1.35 more for the minimum quarterly bill than they did in 2020. The wastewater rate also increased by 2 percent per cubic metre bringing the 2021 charge to $5.11 per cubic metre or $76.65 quarterly for 15 cubic metre minimum. Residents on the sewage system will pay 10 cents more per cubic metre or $1.50 more per minimum quarterly billing compared to 2020 rates. Hudder explained that both water and wastewater rates for 2021 align with the recommendations in the Water Rate Study recently presented to MV Council by OCWA.

Expansion of water system to be studied

Along with receiving the annual report from Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) regarding the water and wastewater system, Council accepted a proposal from Nick Larsen of OCWA to conduct a study about the feasibility of expanding the water system. The discussion centred around parameters, timelines and costs for the study and revealed that a review would align with County planning requirements. Larsen said OCWA could provide a digitized map with elevations to show where the system could be expanded. Councillor Willmer agreed that it needed to be done, and summed up Council’s views by saying, “The timing right now is perfect. If there is any time we should be prepared for growth, it is now. So I really support this and think we should go ahead, get the prices on it and move on this. I think it would be very valuable.”

Free brush disposal until June 30

Hilary Kutchkoskie, MV Operations Manager, explained that to avoid the potential of burning by residents the Township has two brush drop off
locations that will accept residential brush free of charge until June 30, 2021:
Site 1: Yard #2: 39844 Combermere Road.
Site 2: Bark Lake waste disposal site: Located at 21956 Highway 60, 12 Km West of Barry’s Bay. This location is accessible during regular hours.
In light of the success of this program in recent years and with support from the MV Fire Department, Council agreed with Kutchkoskie’s suggestion that this be provided for residents annually.

Fire, Emergency and Bylaw Enforcement

Corwin Quade, MV Fire Chief/By-law Enforcement Officer/Community Emergency Management Coordinator, presented his reports to Council. Like all other rural fire departments, MV awaits more information about fire fighter training. Quade said with a couple of pending certifications the Fire Department has a full complement of fire fighters at the moment. He was pleased to confirm that the weekly Spring Freshet calls have ended and there is no risk of flooding this year. He said the necessary inspections and exercises have been conducted at Valley Manor and Champlain Gardens, and that a Carbon Monoxide call at Madawaska Valley District High School (MVDHS) and Sherwood Public School on March 30th was handled with excellent cooperation from school staff and students and in due course he expects a report from the school board.

Quade reminded Council that the public needs to be aware that sea containers require a building permit. The only exceptions relate to temporary use of a sea container when moving house or during a major renovation.

Councillor Ernie Peplinski discussed some materials regarding the new policing board that municipalities will be required to set up, saying that he was awaiting more information. He warned of the influence of people “from outside our community telling us what to do” and said that a new board will be costly. Councillor Willmer cautioned against making a board that was too big or unwieldy as the local CPAC already deals with five municipalities. Mayor Kim Love urged Peplinski to be proactive to set up a meeting of area stakeholders, reminding him that the deadline is June 7.

Building boom

Planning Department reports show 24 building certificates issued to March 31 this year, compared with just 15 certificates at that point in 2020.

Municipal lands

Township staff have now compiled a list and map of lands owned by the municipality. A Working Group comprising of Mayor Love, Councillor Shulist, Deputy Clerk Gwen Dombroski, Recreation and Community Development Coordinator Stephanie Plebon, and Planning Department staff was formed to review the list and identify any lands that are definitely not surplus; e.g. municipal offices, yards, arena, recreational facilities, etc.

Recreation

Stephanie Plebon reported on various initiatives including:

  • Volunteer Appreciation program The announcement of this new initiative arrived at the same meeting when Mayor Love proclaimed National Volunteer Week in Madawaska Valley April 18 – 24, 2021. Nominations are now open to recognize individuals and groups in these categories: Youth (under 18 years), Adult (19-59 years), Senior (60 years and up), Community Organization/Group, and Lifetime Achievement. Nominees must be a resident, elector, business, volunteer organization, or attend school in the Township of Madawaska Valley. Achievements and contributions must be on a volunteer basis and not for pay. A 500 word description of why the individual or organization should be recognized for their contribution to the community should be included with the nomination form. Plebon said a Summer Barbecue could be held (covid permitting) to celebrate the winning volunteers. Councillor Peplinski wanted it to be split three ways but Mayor Love suggested the initiative be municipality-wide and the celebration move to each community in turn every year. (Click HERE for more details.)
  • Legion Banner program This initiative involves banners in memory of those who served. Municipal staff will install these every fall so they are on display during the period between the Summer and Winter banners.
  • 2022 Winter Games update The NHL-sized ice surface at the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre is too small for Winter Games event which require an Olympic size ice surface, but MV is still in the running for Kickboxing which could be hosted at the Madawaska Valley District High School.

Another Working Group for Communications, Marketing & Promotions was formed, including Councillor Shulist and Peplinski, Deputy Clerk Gwen Dombroski, and community members from some organizations.

Correspondence

Council accepted a letter from Jennifer Gruntz of MPAC as information, confirming that MPAC Property assessments for the 2022 property tax year will continue to be based on January 1, 2016 assessed values. CAO Suzanne Klatt said Ms. Gruntz would present a delegation to Council in May.

A recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Freeland of Bill C-25 would permanently rename the federal Gas Tax Fund to the Canada Community-Building Fund and increase funding in 2021 to almost double the allocation for this year. Hudder said this means MV should receive approximately $125,000 additional funds.

A letter from the Ontario Ministry of Finance regarding the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF) said municipalities that opted in to the retail sale of cannabis will get a final payment. Hudder told Council that MV had received $5,000 on the day of the meeting.

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