County Road 43 Project Update:
The Committee of the Whole has reviewed a status report on the upcoming large-scale County Road 43 redevelopment project in Kemptville.
The design of the road widening project is 95% complete. The outstanding design items include some changes in the interest of cost saving, streetscapes and street lighting. The project will widen and improve County Road 43 from just east of County Road 44 to approximately just east of the Colonnade Roundabout.
There are permits and property that need to be acquired prior to construction, the report outlined. There are 25 different parcels of property that need to be purchased from 15 different individuals, companies, developers and Public agencies such as Parks Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests and the Municipality of North Grenville. No properties have been purchased at this time. However, contact has been made with all affected owners via letter or registered letter with subsequent communication being had with most but not all property owners. Surveys are also being undertaken on a number of properties where an access agreement is required for construction purposes.
Counties Public Works will be seeking a Project Management firm to provide the level of attention a project of this magnitude requires.
It is anticipated that once the work has started, construction will require approximately 30 months to complete. If the project begins in the fall of 2022, project completion would be expected for the summer of 2025.
Homelessness Report Point-in-Time and Survey Data:
Data from a Point-in-Time (PiT) canvas shows there are approximately 200 homeless and emergency sheltered people in Leeds and Grenville. The report by Counties staff is based on information collected this past September. Four teams of canvassers went out on the night of the Count to survey people on the street, including encampments in forested areas in Brockville, Gananoque and Prescott. Local police assisted. Additionally, the Point-in-Time survey was conducted at 41 service provider locations across Leeds and Grenville.
A total of 116 people completed the survey that met the provincial definition of being homeless. An additional 77 people were added to the count who either declined to participate, were identified as dependents of survey participants, or who were known to be homeless but service providers were unable to reach them. One of the key findings was there were slightly more men (52.6%) compared to women (45.7%) homeless or without permanent shelter.
In a breakdown, 23% were “Absolute Homeless” (staying in a public space, vehicle or encampment); 26% were “Emergency Sheltered” (in a local shelter); 49% were “Hidden Homeless” (sleeping on someone’s couch, hotel/motel, jail, hospital).
Almost 41% of those identified as experiencing homelessness were aged 24 or younger. Age distribution shows 19.5% of those identified were aged 25 to 35 while 18.9% were between the ages of 35 and 46. Numbers gradually decreased for those aged 46-55 (8.5%), aged 56-64 (7.9%) and over 65 (4.6%).
The most significant barriers people were facing in finding housing were rents were too high and their income were too low. Mental Health and substance use were still among the top health issues people were dealing with.
Brockville had a significantly higher proportion of people experiencing homelessness than the rest of Leeds and Grenville. In stating this, it is also the case that only 22% of respondents indicated they had relocated into the Counties in the past year. It is possible that COVID-19 impacted the relocation figures. The report noted it would be worth investigating in a future survey.
Committee decides to continue limiting meeting attendance:
Counties Council and committee in-person meetings will not resume in the Council Chambers at this time. The Committee of the Whole voted 5-4 to reject a plan to install Plexiglas shields around council and staff desks at a cost of $3,000. The expense would have been covered by the Safe Restart monies and would have allowed in-person meetings with Leeds Grenville mayors to resume.
The current system is for mainly virtual attendance with limited council members and staff in the Council Chambers. This model will continue for added health and safety during the winter months.
There will also not be public or press in-person attendance at this time. The current practice of viewing the meetings livestream and emailing questions during the meeting remain in place.
Upcoming meetings: The Joint Services Committee is on Tuesday, December 7; the Committee of the Whole meeting is on Wednesday, December 8; the Planning Advisory Committee on December 14 and Counties Council is on Thursday, December 20. All regular meetings begin at 9 a.m. and can be viewed on the Counties website. For more information, contact Interim County Clerk Lesley Todd at 613-342-3840, ext. 2454.