/County council speaks up against hot tub regulations

County council speaks up against hot tub regulations

By James Matthews

Put simply, rules for higher-traffic hot tub use shouldn’t have the same bearing on such amenities at the smaller resorts.

And Haliburton County resolved during its regular public meeting Aug. 24 to speak up for the smaller-scale tourism operators under the umbrella of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

A number of cottage country small resort operators have had to drain their hot tubs because of non-compliance with provincial health codes. Those regulations stipulate such things as safety equipment against drowning, a landline telephone, and shower facilities be at hand.

Those stipulations are also demanded of the larger hotel operations with heavily- used communal pools and hot tubs.

But here’s the rub: Few people take a soak at the smaller resorts where hot tubs are typically limited to the people renting the specific cabin. Not like the throngs of people you’d find splashing about at a hotel with higher guest capacity.

“They’re treating the large hotel hot tubs where multiple people are using them the same as a hot tub that may be, literally, just for one unit,” said Councillor Andrea Roberts. “People go out their motel room door and there’s a personal hot tub.

“A lot of people, after a big hike or a big day snowmobiling or whatever, that’s part of the pleasure is to … have your own personal hot tub right outside your door.”

Councillor Carol Moffatt said the inequitable application of the regulations is absolutely ridiculous. One Algonquin Highlands operator she’s spoken with told her it would cost upwards of $80,000 to be in compliance with the rules. That’s a lot of money for the smaller-scale operators. “The timing is just awful,” said Warden Liz Danielsen.

The county will voice their concerns in a letter to Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott.

“There should be a distinction between the hot tubs that are affected by the small motels and small tourist destination places than the major hotels,” said Roberts.

Peer review of traffic study expected

One county Public Works file that’s garnered Roberts’ interest was a traffic study and a speed limit review for Peninsula Road.

“I certainly know you’re being bombarded with files from the Dysart area,” said Roberts.

Robert Sutton, the county’s director of public works, said a preliminary review has been done of a traffic impact study. He said staff investigated whether or not there’s a need for a right turn taper on County Road 21.

After discussions with Dysart municipal staff, Stone said the county figured they could address anything to come out of the peer review as a condition of site plan control.

“We felt the consultant had addressed most of the concerns county staff had,” Stone said.

The peer review consultant results will be available to the county in about a month.

County signage rules to be reviewed

Councillor Patrick Kennedy, who is also Dysart’s Deputy Mayor, said he was recently contacted about the criteria for signage on county roads. A local businesses had recently opened in the municipality’s West Guilford area. The business owners erected a sign to advertise the establishment.

The sign was subsequently removed by county roads staff.

“It’s been brought to my attention there’s a number of signs around the Haliburton village that are on county road allowances and they have not been disturbed,” Kennedy said. “I’m just wondering what the criteria is.” 

Sutton said the county sign bylaw is scheduled for review and there’s a moratorium on certain signage.

“It’s an important issue for a lot of businesses,” he said. “We respond on a complaint basis, typically, for signs or other matters.” Sutton said he’d investigate Kennedy’s specific example.

County van to go electric

The Haliburton County van is on its last legs, according to Sutton.

As part of plans for its fleet program, the county is looking at replacing the aged van with a plug-in electric vehicle.

“It is coming to the end of its life,” Sutton said. “It’s a challenge to get parts for that type of vehicle. … We’re hoping to get it through to the end of the year.”

Given price factors and market conditions, all options are being considered.

“We are looking into different options and seeing what would be best for the county, both for the environment and for cost,” Sutton said.