By Nick Bernard
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Dec. 9 meeting of Algonquin Highlands council, held virtually.
Three ReUse Centres in Algonquin Highlands are set to be cleaned up and re-opened early in the new year.
The centres allow residents to place good, usable items for other residents, directing those items away from landfills and reapplied to another use, extending the product’s lifespan and reducing waste.
Environmental co-ordinator Melissa Murray says while the centres are important for the county’s diversion efforts, operating them will be a challenge with regards to the pandemic.
“There’s just some considerations that need to be put on the table as far as discussion of when and how those centres could re-open,” she said. “They are considered indoor spaces, unfortunately, so they do fall under all … the COVID protocols that are required for any indoor spaces.”
She also pointed out that, because the centers had been closed for over a year, significant maintenance will need to be done. Cleaning each site could take up to a week to finish.
Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen said she couldn’t envision the work starting before the new year.
“Being done expeditiously as possible,” she said, “But not at the expense of the workload [Public Works has] already got.”
In the meantime, there was an agreement to create signage directing residents to other community resources like SIRCH Thrift Warehouse and 4C’s Lily Ann thrift store, both in Haliburton.
A motion was passed to proceed with preparations for the re-opening of the ReUse Centres.
Residents can use the Waste Wizard on the township website to learn about what and where they can recycle locally: algonquinhighlands.ca/wastewizard.php
FoodCycler program has a positive result
Murray followed her report on the ReUse centres with a report on the FoodCycler trial project. Started in 2020, the project distributed 100 commercial FoodCycler compost systems to Algonquin Highlands residents at a reduced rate.
According to Murray’s report, the FoodCycler “produces a valuable soil amendment, low in odor and significantly less attractive to wildlife than traditional composting methods.”
“I had a trial run with one that belonged to the township,” Mayor Carol Moffatt said. “And I’d like one.”
In the report, 92 per cent of participants agreed, saying they’d recommend the FoodCycler to others. Reduced cost was an important factor in purchasing decisions, one council also wished to consider before expanding the FoodCycler program.
The 100 FoodCycler units were provided to the township at a reduced cost. Council assigned co-ordinator Murray and her team to explore whether such a discount could be offered again.
Councillor Jennifer Dailloux offered some ideas about how to proceed with the project, including how to inform the public of its existence.
“I think that’s worth thinking about more, so whether the township facilitates the purchases [of more FoodCycler units], or whether the township works really hard on public education to say ‘hey folks, here’s a really really good thing, we’ve done it locally, it works fantastically, here’s where you can get your hands on one’,” Dailloux said. “I’d be curious to hear more from staff … on what the best way forward would be.”
More information on the FoodCycler program can be found by contacting Melissa Murray. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet/Telephone voting approved for 2022 municipal/school board elections
Municipal clerk Dawn Newhook presented a report on the selection process for the company that will administer the 2022 municipal/school elections. The company selected will be the service provider for the election’s internet/telephone voting system.
The next municipal election will be held Oct. 24, 2022.
There were five submissions received, with the contract being awarded to Scytl Canada. Scytl was chosen for its ability to demonstrate experience in Ontario municipal elections of this kind. The report stated Scytl’s proposal “demonstrated their online voting interface is intuitive and easy to understand with excellent accessibility and security features.”
Voting will also be available at the township office for those who don’t have phone or internet access. All four municipalities in Haliburton County have chosen to move forward with internet/telephone voting for the 2022 municipal/school board election.
Council meetings on reduced schedule, working around election
A revised schedule for council’s 2022 lineup of meetings was agreed to, with council agreeing to reduce its meeting schedule to once per month.
“For the past three election years … council meetings have been reduced to one per month from June to November,” said the initial staff report provided by Dawn Newhook.
Moffatt agreed, saying that the reduction of meetings was a matter of course.
“Yeah, as soon as nominations open … the meeting’s [have] always gone to one a month,” she said.
As per council policy, council meetings are reduced to one per month during December and January on an annual basis. Since 2008, the schedule has varied from reducing only July and August, to reducing May, June, July, August and September, depending on what projects were being carried out that year.
Council also traditionally meets on the last Thursday of each month on the reduced schedule. Since their October meeting will coincide with the municipal election on Oct. 24, it will instead take place on Oct. 13, the second Thursday of the month.
Notice of the meetings will be provided on the township website’s events calendar.
Big East access agreement helps winter campers
A small parking area at Big East Lake along Highway 118 has become a popular spot for winter campers. Previous to 2019 this parking lot had been plowed by the company who maintained the highway as they used it as a turnaround location. For a time, maintenance was discontinued, as providing plowing and sanding services to such a remote location was seen as impractical.
However, a new agreement has been reached, and the parking lot will now be plowed in the winter.
Parks, recreation, and trails manager Chris Card says the Big East access has been growing in popularity with winter campers.
“It certainly pales in comparison to what you see in the summer,” he said. “But recently, more and more people have been getting into [winter camping]. There’s been a lot of advancements in gear that allow people to do it comfortably.”
“We’re not talking about large numbers, but it is something that is increasing,” he continued. “And actually, of the people that we do get going winter camping, that location is the one that many people want to go to.”
“Small numbers,” he concluded, “but growing.”