The United Counties of Leeds & Grenville Council has agreed to enter into a contract with the City of Brockville for continued central fire dispatch services. The contract will include a fixed-cost agreement of $267,610 for services in 2017. It breaks down into a $4.14 per capita cost for Counties residents. The contract is retroactive to the beginning of this year and will be in place to December 31, 2021. The agreement allows for an annual increase of approximately four per cent, bringing the cost to $312,858 in 2021.

The agreement provides for dispatch services through the Brockville Fire Department to all 10 organized fire departments within Leeds Grenville, with the exception of the separated municipalities of Prescott and Gananoque.

Council is setting strategic priorities: A special Committee of the Whole meeting was held to review Council’s strategic priorities for the remainder of its term of office. The corporation’s vision and mission are being discussed, including where the Counties should be in five to 10 years. Key innovations for further development, revenue generation, and attracting people to Eastern Ontario through public-private partnerships are all on the list. Values and guiding principles will also be included. The strategic priorities identified in the meeting are recognizing the competition Leeds Grenville faces and the marked progress it wants to make; ensuring short- and long-term plans for services; continually evaluating services, programs, and outreach to meet the needs of the community; fiscal responsibility; and using an Eastern Ontario/rural lens. Meetings will continue in May.

New director of public works: A new Director of Public Works, Arup Mukherjee, will be starting in the position in early May. Mr. Mukherjee is a professional engineer with 30 years of experience, including 27 years in the municipal sector and 12 years in a leadership role with municipal councils and senior management. He is leaving his current role as Director of Engineering and Planning with the Town of Bradford, West Gwillimbury, located along Highway 400 between Toronto and Barrie.

He has worked for several Greater Toronto Area (GTA) municipalities, including the former Regional Municipality of Toronto, the Town of Markham, and the Regional Municipality of York. He brings a wealth of experience working in public works, including engineering, infrastructure, planning, building, transportation, roads, and traffic at various levels of municipal government.

Rideau Heritage funding: Counties Council continues to support the budgeted allocation of $30,000 to the Rideau Heritage Route Tourism Association (RHRTA). The funding will cover the previous contributions made by the lower-tier municipalities along with the annual contribution of the Counties. The RHRTA focuses on investment attraction, tourism product development and marketing that look into increasing investment and visitor revenues in the region. Currently the RHRTA is in the process of undertaking a Tourism Economic Impact and Product Feasibility Study that will be available in the summer/fall of 2017.

“The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO world heritage destination. We would like to further leverage its world-class potential to put us in the global marketplace as a destination of choice,” says Ann Weir, interim board president and Counties Economic Development Manager.

Leeds Grenville Small Business funding: Counties Council has voted in favour of allocating $20,000 to the Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre (LGSBEC) for the delivery of the new Starter Company Plus program. The program is similar to the former Starter Company except it has no age limit for applicants wanting to launch a business. Eligible entrepreneurs receive a $5,000 grant and training through the Centre as well as access to grants and loans through area Community Futures Development Corporations. Counties funds will go toward training and marketing the program.

The Leeds Grenville Centre, located in Brockville, has received $105,000 in provincial funding, along with $10,000 in-kind from the City of Brockville. The 1000 Islands and Grenville Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) have allotted $75,000. Potential entrepreneurs from 11 Leeds Grenville municipalities can apply to the LGSBEC. Westport and the Township of Rideau Lakes entrepreneurs can access the program through the Small Business Advisory Centre in Smiths Falls.

Invasive grass issue under review: Leslie Wood, a retired veterinarian, gave a presentation on the invasive Phragmites Australis (PA) invasive plant to the April Committee of the Whole meeting. According to Ms. Wood, the plant is a fire hazard, sight-line hazard along roads, and can reduce property values and access to the waterfront. She encouraged mitigation against the perennial grass and its continued spread. She highlighted areas around the Counties where PA has been spreading and raised concerns over its spread in areas designated as significant wetlands.

Geoff McVey, Counties Forest Manager, agrees with Wood’s assessment and is suggesting Council consider a removal/prevention plan. Each location should be treated individually as different environments impact the best practice for removal and control. For more information contact Forest Manager Geoff McVey at 613-342-3840, ext. 2416.

Upcoming meetings: Committee of the Whole Tuesday, May 9, Joint Services Committee Wednesday, May 10, and regular Counties Council on Thursday, May 25. All regular meetings begin at 9 a.m. in the Council Chambers at 25 Central Avenue, Brockville.


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