The July 25 regularly scheduled Council meeting began with an announcement that North Grenville was once again crowned Ontario’s Most Active Community by ParticipACTION following the annual Community Challenge. The news was very fresh at the time of the meeting, since the announcement of the win was made earlier that same day. Mayor Peckford took the time to thank all who made the win possible, briefly described the projects that prize money funded in previous years, and stated that an advisory committee will be consulted regarding how to spend this year’s $7,500.
Next, the Mayor commented on the success of the recent Kemptville Live Music Festival, expressing her pride in the event and calling it a festival filled with “big acts for a small town”.
In yet another update, the Mayor explained that much-awaited statistics have finally been tabulated for the International Plowing Match event, which was hosted in Kemptville in the fall of last year. Mayor Peckford revealed that the event raised $160,000 in profits that were redistributed to the community. She also announced that the event drew about 67,000 visitors to North Grenville.
“We did it!” added Councillor O’Sullivan, speaking about the International Plowing Match. “It was run by volunteers and I cannot thank everyone enough for stepping up and doing their part to help make it a success.”
Joelle Garneau provided a presentation to Council on her “Kind as a Button” initiative, which was covered in the Times in the July 20 issue.
The first item of routine business was the receipt of a Strategic Plan Mid-Year Update report, followed by a request before Council to purchase a new server. The server is computer hardware which securely stores municipal records and other important information. Council heard that the seven year old server was at the end of its useful life. The new server will cost $74,043.91 plus shipping and HST, and Council voted to authorize the expense.
A few general update reports from various departments were heard next during the meeting.
A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to the issue of housing. First, the subject of so-called “tiny homes” took centre stage. Mayor Peckford revealed that she receives calls with questions about how to build a tiny home seemingly every day.
“I’ve been paying very close attention to the real estate market, like many of us have been, and very unfortunately it’s extremely difficult to break into the market as a new homeowner, or as someone looking to perhaps buy a bigger home, or someone wanting to downsize into a smaller home,” said Mayor Peckford. “All those things seem fairly impossible right now in a community like ours and that’s tragic in many respects because it forces people to move, many of whom want to stay here because they’ve been here for many years or decades, or they want their future to be here.” The Mayor expressed hope that tiny homes could be one possible solution to the problem.
Deputy Director of Building and Planning, Philip Mosher, explained to Council what a tiny home is. Specifically, it refers to a single dwelling unit that is no larger than 400 square feet in size, with specific sizes for specific rooms. However, Deputy Director Mosher clarified that just because these technical specifications exist for definition purposes, smaller homes can be built without having to fit into these perfect size specifications.
When asked what the steps would be for someone looking to build a tiny home, Deputy Director Mosher said they would first call the Building and Planning Department. They would be told to provide a sketch, even just a hand-drawn one, to describe what their intentions are. Finally, a meeting with a planner or building official could take place to ensure that zoning requirements would be met before the building permit application would be prepared. The meeting would only be necessary if there were questions following the receipt of the sketched plan. Deputy Mayor Barclay added a comment that with recent building code and zoning changes in North Grenville, an additional dwelling unit on a residential property is possible without the need to sever land.
Deputy Director Mosher then followed up his tiny homes presentation with a presentation on the Housing Accelerator Fund. The Housing Accelerator Fund is a federal program designed to expedite the construction of new homes and encourage the development of complete, inclusive, low-carbon, and climate-resilient communities.
North Grenville’s Building and Planning department intends to apply for the Fund before the August 18 deadline, with seven key initiatives needing to be outlined in its application to show that the goals of the program would be met if funding is received. The seven initiatives are:
- Improve Wastewater Infrastructure at the Siphons and Trunk Mains
- Improve Wastewater Infrastructure at the College Lands
- Improve Wastewater Infrastructure at the Bridge Street Pump Station
- Reduce Red Tape and Improve Service by revisiting zoning by-laws
- Fast tracking a New Commons Housing Co-operative Development that will result in the building of 108 high density dwelling units
- Permit Tracking Software for better communication between individuals and departments
- Implementation of a $10,000 Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) Incentive to encourage the building of additional housing on existing properties.
If the application is successful, the funding received through the HAF will aid North Grenville in reaching its housing objectives sooner. The funding will be provided annually by the federal government and will be utilized for investments in affordable housing, housing-related infrastructure, and community-related infrastructure in line with the approved Action Plan.
The final business of the meeting involved awarding tenders for some public works projects. A second Council meeting took place last week, hosted at Catered Affairs on July 28. It was a closed session meeting for the purposes of training.