Merrickville-Wolford council held their last meeting of the year on Monday, December 9. It was a short meeting, full of holiday cheer, with Mayor Doug Struthers and council wishing everyone in the gallery a safe and happy Christmas at the end of the evening.
Here are some of the items they touched on, some of which will be carried into the new year.
Official Plan update:
Chief Building Official (CBO) Randy Wilkinson updated council about the status of the Municipality’s new Official Plan, which has been in the works for the past few months. Written comments received from the public were discussed at length at the last Planning Advisory Committee meeting on November 21. Village Planner, Doug Grant, says he should have a final draft of the Official Plan for council approval early in January, 2020.
Merrickville Community Centre renovations:
Although council and staff support the concept presented by Theatre Night in Merrickville (TNIM) to build a production booth in the Merrickville Community Centre, they cannot permit the renovations to occur over the Christmas holidays, as proposed. In a report presented to council by CBO Randy Wilkinson, due to the scope and complexity of the work, he believes volunteer labour would not be sufficient for this project, as skilled trades would need to be involved. Council directed staff to deliver the report to TNIM, with a letter outlining their support, but asking them to reconsider their timeline for the project.
New yards by-law for Village:
Council passed a new by-law to address the upkeep of properties in the Village. The new by-law is an upgrade to one that had been in existence since 1998, and has become somewhat obsolete. The bylaw is reactive, and will only be enforced when a formal complaint is received. A few council members were concerned about the application of the bylaw on agricultural lands, and the possibility of people who aren’t aware of the unique characteristics of farming making complaints. “My feeling is that I am very confident we can enforce the bylaw and not put an unnecessary disadvantage on the farmer,” Randy said.
Community Grants Policy:
2020 will be the first complete year for the Municipality’s new Community Grants Policy, which will require all grant requests to be submitted between January 6 and January 31. This includes requests for funding, as well as in-kind services. CAO Doug Robertson told council that they will be working on putting a value on the in-kind donations, so that council will know how much it costs the municipality to fulfill these requests (barricades, operational staff support etc.) Staff will also be bringing a report back to council in the new year about what the policy will be for community groups who receive a grant, but end up with a surplus at the end of the year.
Emergency Response Plan:
The CAO presented the Municipality’s new Emergency Response Plan to council. The plan was developed by staff under the supervision of the Ontario Fire Marshal. The plan was not officially accepted by council at the meeting, as part of it had not been supplied for review in the public council package, as it contained confidential personal information. Council was not comfortable adopting the plan without seeing these appendices, therefore a special in-camera meeting will be called, so they can review the information and adopt the plan before the deadline of the end of the year.