By Chad Ingram
The following are brief reports of items discussed during an Oct. 8 Minden Hills committee-of-the-whole meeting.
The Township of Minden Hills plans to proceed with its septic re-inspection program in the spring of 2021.
The township has hired firm WSP Canada to conduct the mandatory inspections and while the process had been scheduled to get underway in 2020, it was put on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Conducted on a cost-recovery basis, the lid-off inspections will cost property owners $240; a $225.55 fee per site, as well as a $15 administration fee, designed to cover the township’s in-house costs for administering the program. If property owners wish to use a firm other than WSP, they have the option do so, however, that will ultimately cost more money. The $225 site fee and $15 administration fee will still apply, and there will also be a third-party inspection review fee of nearly $150.
The upfront costs for the township – including fees paid to the firm for scheduling, mapping, risk assessment, public education, etc., as well as labour, legal and supplies costs – have totalled $82,500.
As chief building official Colin McKnight and WSP environmental consultant Paisley McDowell noted, there was a hiccup in processing some 2,000 property files due to discrepancy between GIS information from the County of Haliburton and the township’s records. Some properties did not have addresses attached to them.
McKnight said the township had contacted planning software firm CityView and had also been working with the county’s IT department. “They basically adjusted and added what we needed,” he said, adding the processing of those files was now underway.
“The goal of this effort is to come up with one list of all of the addresses in the township – the tax roll numbers, civic address, and all of the homeowners – so that we can appropriately send out mailing information to all owners to introduce WSP, the township, the program and what the future steps are,” McDowell said.
Minden Hills is the final of the county’s four lower-tier townships to initiate its mandatory septic re-inspection program. While the requirement for the programs comes from the provincial government, the design and process of each program is up to individual municipal governments.
Public meetings go virtual
Minden Hills held its first public meeting – a meeting where members of the public have a legislated opportunity to make comments or ask questions, typically related to planning matters – since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Amid the ongoing pandemic, council meetings continue to take place via online conferencing app Zoom and are broadcast to the public via YouTube. For the time being, members of the public who wish to take part in the public meeting will also participate virtually.
“The province has encouraged municipalities to resume the processing of planning applications in an effort to restart the economy,” said Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell, reading a prepared statement. “To support the restart of the planning process, the province has passed a number of pieces of legislation to permit public meetings to continue during the pandemic. This includes legislative permission to hold public meetings virtually, and we are doing so today.”
A public meeting on a request for a zoning bylaw amendment took place with participants taking part virtually.
“The Township of Minden Hills remains committed to a fair and transparent public process,” Schell said. “As set out in the Planning Act, every person who attends a public meeting to consider a proposed zoning bylaw, shall be given an opportunity to make representation, irrespective of the proposed bylaw, and members attending today’s virtual public meeting can speak to the proposed bylaw by way of computer or smartphone by going to the website.”
The information on public meetings is contained in the “newsroom” section of the township’s website at www.mindenhills.ca.