By Chad Ingram
The County of Haliburton has awarded a contract for the creation of a draft shoreline protection bylaw to Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd., in partnership with J.J Richards and Associates.
Councillors made that decision during a May 12 online meeting, endorsing a recommendation that had come from an evaluation team including Warden Liz Danielsen and members of county staff.
The county had begun meetings regarding the creation of a bylaw aimed at protecting lake health by restricting site alteration and the removal of vegetation near waterbodies in early 2020.
An in-person public consultation process that had been planned for last summer was unable to proceed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with council conversations around the draft bylaw resuming last September. The county had set up a digital public engagement framework that has been active on its website, for which a communications firm was retained to create materials, and which has garnered numerous responses. However, there was significant controversy and public criticism of a draft bylaw – particularly a recommended setback of 30 metres for site alternation and vegetation removal – as well as the in-house process the county had undertaken, and in January, council decided to abandon that process and instead hire a consultant for the creation of a draft bylaw.
“We did receive three, I think, pretty strong proposals,” said chief administrative officer Mike Rutter, reiterating the four main criteria had included a review of the associated science; best practices undertaken in other communities; robust public engagement; and the creation of a draft bylaw for consideration by council.
“The public consultation process that is listed in the response document is a starting point for conversation, and I want to reassure council … that you will have all kinds of opportunity to add to that, take away from, change, when we start the process with the consultants,” Rutter said.
The contract is for $41,605, plus applicable taxes.
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt noted there had been council discussion about conducting public consultation by sector, “so we didn’t have a mixing and matching of concerns, and is that still up for discussion when the plan is developed?”
“Absolutely,” Rutter said.
Council authorized the consulting firm to begin its work right away.