Highlights of the regular United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Council Meeting held on Thursday, June 22, and Committee of the Whole and Joint Services Committee meetings held earlier in the month, included:

Counties Council asks province to review minimum wage changes: Counties Council is asking the Ontario Government to withdraw changes to the minimum wage and the Employment Standards Act until a comprehensive economic impact analysis is completed. The Ontario government announced last month that the minimum wage will increase to $14 on January 1, 2018 and $15 the following year, a 31.5% increase.

The Counties resolution notes: “the speed of this increase is unprecedented in the Provincial Government and far above public sector increases allowed” by the province. It asks that the changes be withdrawn until such time they have done their due diligence by providing residents and small business owners of Ontario with an impact analysis, including mitigation measures in order to help businesses transition into any regulatory changes.

The resolution will be sent to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Minister Responsible for Small Business, the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Honourable Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, and to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

“We need to know if the Premier has a plan to help small businesses,” said Robin Jones, Mayor of Westport and Warden of the United Counties. Ms. Jones put forth the motion, adding her municipality has many small businesses that may not be able to meet the changes. “We have to have something to help keep small businesses from going bankrupt,” she said. For more information, contact Counties CAO Andy Brown at 613-342-3840, ext. 2301.

Tax deferrals for low-income seniors: Council passed a by-law to establish eligibility for tax deferrals for low-income seniors and disabled persons. The by-law updates a 1998 document to reflect the current Municipal Act. The older by-law was intended to provide some relief from significant tax rate increases related to the phase-in of 1998 assessment-related tax increases. The new by-law refers to “tax increases” only as it is stated under the current Municipal Act. It also adds the provision to cap the deferral limit to 75% of the Current Value Assessment (CVA).

Eligible persons are required to fill out an application each year and, if approved, the related tax increase must be a minimum of $100, which can be deferred until the property is sold or the ratepayer is no longer eligible. For more information contact Treasurer Pat Huffman at 613-342-3840, ext. 2468.

Invasive plants in region: Council heard a second presentation on invasive plants and will now be examining the development of a strategy to keep them from spreading in Leeds Grenville.

Kellie Sherman, of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, provided an overview of the plants threatening forests and creating dead zones in regions throughout the province, in particular Phragmites. This European reed and perennial grass is causing damage to Ontario’s biodiversity, wetlands, and beaches.

Ms. Sherman said Phragmites is not as prevalent in this area as it is in other regions. However, she stated Council should consider addressing it now by educating the public, developing a strategy to keep it at bay, and making room in the budget. Warden Robin Jones said Council will request a proposal from staff on the issue. For more information contact CAO Andy Brown at 613-342-3840, ext. 2301.

Waste management task force formed: Following a report and recommendation from the Committee of the Whole, Counties Council has approved the formation of a Waste Management Task Force. The Task Force will be mandated with determining current and future waste management needs for solid waste, compost, and Household Hazardous Waste. It will not be required to determine the future of ED-19. Members named are Warden Robin Jones, Joe Baptista, Doug Malanka, and David Nash. A fifth member will be named at a later date.


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