By Vanessa Balintec
Tuesday, May 7, Haliburton County Warden Liz Danielsen addressed public
concerns and questions over what her and the council’s plans will be
for the next coming year.
primary goal is sustainability,” said Danielsen. “For us that means we
have funds available to replace or rehabilitate assets whenever it’s
needed. If we continue to work towards this goal of sustainability, it
will ensure that there is no unanticipated large spikes in tax rates as
we face large projects.”
first matter at hand was looking at road maintenance, as the spring
season has shown there’s a long list of projects scheduled for
improvements this year.
said the county did not receive sufficient funding from the provincial
government for provincial highway upkeep, and it may take as long as
three years to see a turn-around in optimal road maintenance and
sustainability. “While best efforts have always been made to keep up
roads, they can sometimes be at the expense of other roads.”
County has a debt capacity that can allow consideration for loans to
speed up the process in the future, said Danielsen.
terms of sustainability, council has also looked into long-term
investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation that all four
municipalities can work together on.
be initiating a climate [change] mitigation and adaptation plan that
will outline environmental sustainability priorities, establish goals
and targets and identify actions to achieve them.”
ensure the protection of lakes, the county is also investing in
additional shoreline protection which will incorporate the existing
shoreline tree preservation bylaw. Danielsen noted it would be changing
all municipal bylaws and enforcing new ones will be a “somewhat
difficult and long” task to achieve.
county continues to invest in retrieving data from the Gull River and
Burnt River to complete flood engineering, hydrology, and mapping.
Danielsen says an investment of more than $266,000 represents just 50
per cent of proposed 2019 costs shared with the federal government.
“The overall project investment does far exceed that amount,” said Danielsen.
Among sustainability, amalgamation and government structure was a topic of concern.
to Danielsen, the council is working closely with all four
municipalities for a shared services review to help determine how
closely the municipalities have to work together to help reduce costs,
provide better service, and maintain “unique individuality.”
Some guests had concerns over whether or not this would be a repeat of previous years’ talks with no action.
“Everybody is going into it with an absolute open mind, I can tell you that,” said Danielsen.
are not convinced amalgamation in its true form will work. I think in
many ways we’ll lose our identity, we’ll lose our ability to make
decisions on our own, and we’re not convinced that it’s going to save
money in the long-run. I don’t think people realize just how much we
already share our services.”
will look at all models, costing, and what we might save. In the
meantime, we’re working together, all four municipalities and the
county,” said Danielsen.
said the council should have the results of the shared services review
in time for the upcoming strategic planning session taking place close
to two months’ time.
Progress in internet and cell service was of interest, too.
year, $140,000 was invested in Eastern Ontario Regional Network as a
contribution towards a cell coverage improvement project and updated
broadband gap analysis. A total between $500,000 to $600,000 has been
contributed. The council is confident they will be hearing an
announcement from upper levels of government about funding that will
improve gaps in cell service and provide improvements in the area.
Alternatives for faster service will continue to be investigated.
the EORN is armed with information on the gap analysis, we’ll be
looking for the fastest way to leverage enough money for projects to
happen as quickly as possible,” said Danielsen.
Bell has just announced its new wireless home service in the area
starting in northern parts in the county and working south that use
network infrastructure from the original EORN contributions.
Danielsen alluded to the future of rural transit.
just doesn’t seem viable right now,” said Danielsen. “While there have
been high hopes for rural transit, unfortunately we had to place this
project on the back burner at least for this year to ensure that we
maintain existing levels of service before implementing new programs.”
an established reserved fund for transportation will remain a “standing
item for future consideration” every year when budgeting and long-term
planning takes place.
A development charges study this year will take place.
goal is to ensure the full cost of providing infrastructure to service
new growth areas is not borne completely by taxpayers,” said Danielsen.
are simply exploring the use of development charges to assist
covering part of the cost, something the province is encouraging. I
don’t want to alarm people – we don’t have any decision to where we go
with that. We’ll wait to see what the study tells us.”
As for new development, the county continues to invest in desperately-needed housing projects with the City of Kawartha Lakes.