IN THE NEWS
By Marianne Cole
1. Joint Town/County Council Meeting, March 14
Following the County’s February 16th public meeting on the proposed Area Structure Plan for the land north of Rocky, the town requested a joint meeting of town and county councils. Highlights were:
* Concern was expressed by town councillors that they hadn’t been consulted on the content of the ASP before it went public.
* It was noted that all meetings of the Intermunicipal Development Plan committee had been “in camera” and information was not shared with either council prior to the February meeting.
* Elected members of the committee are Pat Alexander, Curt Maki, and Jim Duncan from the County and Fred Nash, Jason Alderson, and Don Verhesen from the Town. The respective CAO’s and planning department personnel also attended.
* County councillor Earl Graham suggested that committee level “in camera” sessions could be brought back to a whole council in camera session. Ron Leaf suggested councils get legal advice on the matter.
* County councillors were generally in favor of proceeding with the Area Structure Plan although one councillor suggested more info was needed on financing and the Rocky’s lagoon system.
* Town councillors were more reserved, with concerns over financial benefit along with lagoon issues and transparency of information.
* In the end Ron Leaf said that there is lots of work, negotiations, and public consultation needed before final plans are approved.
2. Results of the Town’s Economic Feasibility Study
The results of the town’s economic feasibility study on the Joint Development Agreement with the county on lands to the north of Rocky was recently presented to the town with the following highlights:
* The JDA could have a positive fiscal impact on the town but there are risks.
* The timing and magnitude of growth from the JDA is uncertain and subject to current economic conditions.
* With current population trends, the town does have plenty of land for residential growth, but has a limited supply of commercial and industrial land.
* In further questioning by town councillors it was noted that if the town doesn’t grow, there is no need for more land.
3. Clearwater County Crime Watch
The Clearwater County Crime Watch held their annual general meeting at the Leslieville Community Centre on Wednesday, March 29. Special highlights of the meeting were:
* Presentation by a representative of the Action Coalition on Trafficking. She explained that human trafficking is not limited to young females for the sex trade, but can involve both
genders in any situation where they are held against their will, under duress, with little or no pay, and in potentially deplorable living conditions.
* Presentation by Sgt. Jay Penner of the Rocky RCMP. He indicated that the incidence of domestic violence has gone up 130% in Clearwater County in the last year. Much of it attributed to drugs and the economic conditions. The RCMP is working diligently to curb drug use and crime with their strategy of tracking/watching repeat offenders and those on parole.
The County’s Crime Watch group is desperately needing board members and we encourage anyone interested in helping support this very beneficial group to contact Marianne Cole or Trish Bingham.
ROSES: This month’s bouquet of roses goes out to the Clearwater Broadband Foundation’s board of directors. They have worked diligently to gather information on the benefits and feasibility of improved broadband services to county residents. This has been an issue that area residents have indicated was of significant importance to them. We certainly commend the CBF for their diligence and efforts to work together for the provision of a very beneficial service for county residents.
RANT: As I reflect on the various development discussions/meetings that have taken place this past year I am reminded of the continual opinions of county taxpayers:
* The CCTA’s survey in February 2016 indicated overwhelming opposition to the county’s building plans.
* At the Dovercourt meeting in May the requested show of hands showed huge opposition to the building developments.
* The county’s own satisfaction survey this past fall indicated significant opposition to the building plans but strong support for improved broadband service.
* At the ASP open house in February the need for additional development and concern for the economic benefit was again brought forward.
With the county taxpayer sentiments being so clearly expressed in opposition, I continue to wonder why the county presses on with their development plans. Isn’t there a cost to the continual consultant work? Why continue if there is so much opposition? OR… Do the opinions of county taxpayers, those footing the bill, have absolutely no relevance? Is there any validity to the promise that we would be consulted before any decisions are made? Even after consultation, will the decisions made follow the wishes of the majority??? Perhaps the fall election will be the only real way to ensure our voice is heard and definitive answers to this whole quandary are provided. One could only hope.
April 13, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:00PM
May 11, 2017, Regular monthly meeting, 7:30PM
Note: Meeting time change in May from 7:00PM to 7:30pm