North Grenville Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on January 17, but not before holding a public meeting with the purpose of giving local residents a chance to have their say on the 2024 municipal budget, which was the subject of a press release in last week’s issue of the Times. This was the first meeting to take place in the Council Chambers of the North Grenville Municipal Centre since the audio-visual upgrades were completed. Residents watching the live stream from home were therefore treated to a video of much higher quality than before, with close ups of those speaking, as well as presentation slides on screen.
Mayor Nancy Peckford opened the public meeting by confirming that Council has not yet had a chance to actively deliberate on the budget. A virtual meeting will take place on February 1 so that residents who cannot attend in person can still have their say on the budget, which Council hopes to pass some time in February.
Senior managers from each municipal department took turns presenting briefly on the budget outlook for their specific department. Readers are encouraged to view the video of the meeting, or flip through the PowerPoint presentation for specific financial figures, as there is far too much to report succinctly in print. As usual, the water and sewer budget for this year is separate from the Municipality’s general budget, because the system operates in a self-sustaining capacity using user fees within the Kemptville urban area.
Sitting on either side of the Mayor in the usual Council seats were not members of Council at the budget meeting, but instead various directors and senior managers in attendance to answer questions. Members of Council (besides the Mayor, who was in her usual seat to chair the meeting) were seated in the audience, and were permitted to ask questions of municipal staff, much like any member of the public would. However, the Mayor cautioned Council members against stating an opinion on budget matters, since that must be saved for Council’s official deliberations.
Deputy Mayor John Barclay asked a few technical questions regarding where certain funding lines in the budget are coming from, and specifics of how funding will be allotted. Councillor Doreen O’Sullivan asked a question with a similar purpose, specifically regarding how the reserve fund is used. No questions or comments from members of the public were put forward during the meeting.
Following an extended break, Council returned at 6:30 pm for its regularly scheduled Council meeting. The meeting jumped right into business with a brief public meeting period to address a request for a minor zoning variance. A back and forth discussion took place regarding whether an existing water well and septic system will support an additional large dwelling unit on the subject property. The motion for the minor variance request was passed.
Following the end of the public meeting, Mayor Peckford covered some housekeeping points. Residents should note that the deadline to submit Civic Award nominations has been extended to February 5, as fewer application were received than normal. Other items from the Mayor included an update on the success of the new transit system and an acknowledgement that municipal staff are aware of some kinks that need working out, a word of thanks for municipal staff who dealt with two snowstorms back-to-back earlier this month, and a note of regret at the passing of former Town of Kemptville Councillor, Ken Finnerty.
The next item was a presentation from Amy Martin – the Municipality’s Director of Planning and Development – regarding a pre-servicing agreement for the next development phase of the eQuinelle subdivision. Council approved the pre-servicing agreement, which is required prior to a full subdivision agreement. It allows for the installation of water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.
Director Martin then took the spotlight again to present a subdivision agreement for the proposed Oxford Village Subdivision. The particulars of the potential new subdivision were discussed including the possibility of requiring the developer to install a safe multi-use pathway between the Subdivision and the town, but this would have had to be included in an earlier planning phase. CAO Karen Dunlop added that this particular subdivision proposal has been “on the books” since 2017, so adding restrictive conditions now may not be appropriate. Councillor O’Sullivan raised further concerns about the Municipality setting itself up to “play catch up” with transportation infrastructure, considering her belief that the current Council has had to do so since 2018. Ultimately, the motion for the subdivision agreement was passed with reassurance that development charges can be allocated to help ensure viable transportation options in the area in the future.
The final item of business was once again presented by Director Martin, this time regarding the Creek Subdivision. The motion was to lift part lot control for an additional year in the subdivision so that 72 townhouse units can be created. The motion was passed, and the Council meeting ended efficiently at 7:40 pm.