By Jenn Watt
Published Feb. 15 2018
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the committee of the whole meeting of Minden Hills council on Feb. 8.
Following a request from minor hockey organizers Minden Hills staff decided to provide matching rates for hall rentals to those provided by Dysart et al. Director of community services Mark Coleman presented councillors with details on the situation and asked them to provide feedback on how to set rates moving forward.
“In an attempt to address financial challenges minor hockey has been reviewing expenses and the need to maximize fundraising as it relates to hosting tournaments” Coleman’s report to council reads. “Dysart’s special fee and rate … for minor hockey and figure skating groups is $40 per hour to a maximum of $100 per day for auditorium use. In Minden Hills minor hockey primarily uses the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena and Community Centre Room 1 for a full day for tournaments and Room 2 for two-hour clinics” he wrote. The minor group ice rate in Minden Hills is $80 an hour. Room 1 is rented for $250 a day and Room 2 is $75 per half day minimum.
“Both Minden Hills and Dysart have the same rate for minor ice groups being $80 per hour for use of all ice times.”
Minor hockey uses the arena for between four and five tournaments a year which brings in about $7900 for the township. Figure skating uses the hall once a year.
“Implementing a special room rental rate for minor hockey and figure skating will result in a reduction of revenues of about $150 per use and $900 per year from current rates” the report states.
Mayor Brent Devolin said he supported competitive rates with Dysart but cautioned not to get involved in a race to the bottom.
Coleman said he would initiate talks with Dysart et al and the minor hockey association to come up with fair rates.
“We’re not there to put them out of business” he said but pointed out the township has a responsibility to taxpayers.
Councillors gave pre-approval to appoint members to the arena building task force. The committee will consist of Diane Peacock Gary Stoner Bill Obee Brian Kernohan Doug O’Dell Jane Symons and Mayor Brent Devolin and Councillor Ron Nesbitt as council representatives.
“We tried to be as inclusive as possible; we cast a wide net [looking for members]” Devolin said.
Discussion around changing current practices on seasonally maintained roads gave Mayor Brent Devolin cause for pause at the meeting Thursday.
Roads superintendent Travis Wilson delivered a thorough report on issues that came up during the process of drafting a bylaw on maintenance of this special group of roads which taken collectively represent 20 kilometres.
After reviewing a draft bylaw the township’s solicitor had recommended that no winter maintenance be done on seasonally maintained roads but if council wanted to move ahead with this option that the entity doing the work enter into a licence agreement with the township.
“At the Dec. 13 2017 roads advisory committee meeting the committee recommended that council allow winter maintenance provided that a license agreement is in place with the appropriate persons/representatives. The committee felt that since private contractors maintain some of these roads there would be a loss in revenue for these contractors if winter maintenance is not permitted” Wilson’s report states.
The report later states: “If council should direct staff to enter into maintenance agreements a significant amount of staff time will be required to develop and maintain a list of individuals/contractors to provide education and to formalize agreements with all parties. It may require several years to complete the list and would incur related legal costs. Further to this licence agreements would need to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that insurance remains in place and to confirm that the work continues to be [the] same service provider is performing the work.”
Not entering into such agreements would pose a liability concern Wilson wrote.
He also told council the bylaw would specify that the township would open seasonally maintained roads as of June 1 and conduct maintenance through to Oct. 11. This would change practice slightly as currently they attempt to open them for the long weekend in May. Wilson’s report said that was a challenge for staff due to the spring thaw and associated costs.
Devolin said he wasn’t prepared to make a decision on changing current practices without further information.
“First of all this is a pretty rapid departure for consideration with what has happened [in the past]” he said.
He wanted to know who was currently doing winter maintenance on the seasonally maintained roads which were listed as small portions of the following roads: Murdoch Road Wessell Road Spar Lake Road Iron Mine Road Line Drive White Boundary Road Ritchie Falls Road Tom Bolton Road Soyers Lake Road Sedgwick Road east and west Scotch Line Road east Beer Lake Road Cecil Grant Road and Raptor Road.
Devolin also wanted to know what neighbouring municipalities had chosen to do with the issue.
Wilson also asked council to consider what standard of maintenance they wanted to apply to the listed roads.
Ivan Ingram environmental and property operations manager asked council to consider having two household hazardous waste days on Saturdays that do not correspond with long weekends during the summer in order to accommodate permanent residents who often travel out of the area on holidays.
“During 2017 staff had initially scheduled events on the Saturday of five long weekends. However one of these dates was changed to a Saturday on a regular weekend in order to accommodate local residents who often go on vacation during the originally scheduled long weekend” Ingram’s report states.
The proposed dates would be May 19 June 23 Aug. 11 Sept. 1 and Oct. 6. The household hazardous waste days are held at Scotch Line landfill from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“In the past four years more than 142 tonnes of household hazardous waste has been diverted from the landfill” the report reads.
Mayor Brent Devolin gave council and the public attending the meeting an update on new initiatives to expand internet access in Haliburton County following a letter from Jan and Dave Heaven.
The Heavens’ letter expressed frustration that their immediate area did not have high-speed internet and that their prices were higher than their neighbours but they did not get as much access.
“This small neglected few extend from Nawautin Lane along Horseshoe Lake Road up Inukshuk Lane to Mountain Lake and along Reynolds to Duck Lake Road. We plead with council to look into this situation and come to our rescue” the letter reads.
Council decided to write a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission about the situation.
Devolin explained that some more rural areas that were not reached in the last major high-speed internet project may have a long time to wait even if more funding becomes available.
“From the time that it gets approval until the whole thing … would roll out in Haliburton County is probably going to be a five year progression” he said.
The Eastern Ontario Regional Network a company that has been working on expanding internet service has put in a grant application for $300 million in improvements.
“The next part is to add the wireless components to the fibre backbone so that there’s connectivity there. I expect a decision on that before the year’s out” he said.