At the April 18th Regular Council Meeting one of the main topics for Madawaska Valley Council was the approval of the 2023 municipal budget, which resulted in a tax increase in the budget of 1.69 percent over 2022. At the conclusion of the budget highlights presented by Amanda Hudder, MV Treasurer, Mayor Mark Willmer thanked her for a “very good synopsis,” and said that he was “very pleased with the amount we were able to settle on and I think it’s good value for the Township’s ratepayers.”
Looking at the 2021-2023 summary, there was an overall decrease of 11.7 percent in spending which Hudder attributed to several components, including grant fundings, capital project deferrals, moneys put into reserves, and drawdowns from reserves. Pictured above is MV Treasurer, Amanda Hudder. Photo YouTube/Madawaska Valley.
The discussion then shifted to the property tax levy requirement. Hudder noted that MPAC reports the current value assessment change for the residential tax base will be 2.71 percent. However, this change will not apply to everyone; it only affects those with changes to their property. When the MPAC reassessments are factored in, some residents’ property taxes will increase by 4.4 percent over 2022. It should be further noted that current MPAC rates are at 2016 valuations. With the impending MPAC reassessments for the municipality slated for 2023, MV property owners could see a significant increase next year.
Local impact of Bill 23
Other highlights from the Council meeting included a robust discussion around the Township’s requirement to address and implement the province’s Bill 23 which was passed November 22, 2022. In brief this bill provides the ability for a landowner to build two additional housing units on their property as long as the total square footage of any new build does not exceed the square footage of the current home residing on the property. This runs contrary to many of the existing by-laws within the municipality, by-laws which have prevented the prospect of tiny homes or studio apartments. Another example of restrictive by-laws in MVT is the present requirement for waterfront property owners to hold a minimum of two acres before they can erect a bunkie on their property.
The County of Renfrew has been proactive and on April 11 updated their by-laws approving additional units in line with the province’s Bill 23. MV will have to follow suit to align by-laws to meet the provincial ruling.
Township staff pleased with residents’ feedback
The Treasurer also presented members of Council with a synopsis of the recent customer service survey. She pointed out that the survey was a staff-led initiative, not based on a request from Council. Overall, the survey attracted 298 respondents. Based on 3,255 households in the municipality this represents a low number (less than 10 percent response), although Hudder stated that in statistical terms MV administration views this response at a 92.5 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/-5 percent.* She pointed out that the figures were calculated per household and not per person, as staff consider that services are normally provided on a per household basis. Had the figures been calculated per person, which means the response rate would have been even lower. Click HERE to download and read the Report including the survey form and raw data.
*The term “confidence level” means that if the survey were repeated multiple times the results would be the same 92.5 percent of the time, as defined at www.statisticshowto.com
Intimate partner violence declared an epidemic
Of grave concern, the meeting also included consideration of a Renfrew County Resolution about the prevalence of domestic violence across the County. Based on the 86 recommendations from the jury at the Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam Inquest and combined with alarming statistics of 4,815 crisis calls and service provision to 527 women and children in the local community, the Council for the County of Renfrew declared intimate partner violence and violence against women an epidemic in Renfrew County on March 31st. Renfrew County then circulated its Resolution to all Ontario municipalities, and MV Council voted unanimously to support the Resolution.
If you or someone you know is living in or involved in an abusive relationship, help is available. Contact Bernadette McCann House 24/7 for support, advice, or the safety of a shelter at 1-800-267-4930. The Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County is also available 24/7 for information and support at 1-800-663-3060. You could also attend the emergency department of any hospital in Renfrew County and ask to speak to a member of the Assault Response Team. Victim Services of Renfrew County is also available to provide emotional and practical assistance to people who have experienced domestic violence. They can be reached at 613-649-2852 or toll free at 1-877-568-5730. In emergencies call 9-1-1.
Municipal staff given discretion to supply sand and sandbags as needed
Deputy Clerk and Community Emergency Management Coordinator Alternate Gwen Dombroskie conveyed a request from the Community Emergency Management Committee to Council for a by-law granting the Operations Department discretion to dispense sand and sandbags as required during the course of the spring freshet. Council unanimously voted in favour and residents are reminded to check the Township website for updates on localized flooding.