BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Work on a proposed Scugog Island hotel and resort is moving ahead slowly, with the developer not ruling out the possibility of just building a single hotel on the property depending on market demand at the time of construction.
Scugog councillors approved a staff report this week supporting a Regional Official Plan amendment to change the zoning of the Portview Rd. development, which could see an 80-unit hotel and 150-unit townhouse resort constructed along the shores of Lake Scugog northeast of the Hwy. 7A causeway. The project, which is still in the approval stage, was originally proposed to a former council in late 2005.
According to Scugog planning consultant Jim Dyment, another required amendment to the township's new Official Plan centres around the amount of water that the proposed development would use - 172,000 litres daily - which exceeds the OP's current water use capacity of 4,500 litres for such developments, a condition that came into effect after the project's initial proposal.
Mr. Dyment added that the project could potentially generate up to $42,500 in annual property taxes for the township.
The issue of the project's impact on neighbouring wells has been a concern of nearby residents since the development was initially proposed. Gary Hendy of Genivar and Lino Trombino of the Region of Durham, both of whom were in attendance at the Jan. 28 meeting, said that the development's water use would not impact local wells due to the site's use of water from a deeper aquifer than that used by dug wells, as demonstrated in recent tests. However, Mr. Dyment recommended that the project be built in stages so as to monitor any potential effects on local wells. Should any problems arise once the development is finished, Mr. Dyment recommended that the township take a similar approach to that of golf courses - by putting the responsibility of supplying water in the event of an interruption on the property owner.
"Staff opinion is that we should phase in this development so that we can track how much water is being used and monitor the impacts on neighbouring wells," said Mr. Dyment.
However, the ultimate appearance of the development is yet to be determined, according to architect Peter Favot. The statement drew some concern from Ward 5 Councillor Howard Danson over what exactly council was being asked to approve, as well as the necessity of phasing in a project for water monitoring purposes when studies imply that enough water will be available for the site. Mr. Dyment replied that the report was simply to support the zoning change to get the project moving ahead, while township Planning Director Don Gordon explained that the phasing recommendation was due to both market demand and "pragmatic planning" to address any potential water supply issues that may arise.
"We won't know the amount of units until we know the demand," said Mr. Favot. "We will do a marketing study for hotel and residential portions as we move forward. It will be a costly analysis and one that will take time. We may start with 80 units and then the economy could change drastically. We may phase it in, or may even just build a hotel. We may end up with just a hotel on the site. And until we get more approvals, we can't go to a hotel chain and say we're going with them."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After months of number crunching, Uxbridge Council put the finishing touches on the 2013 municipal budget on Monday, Jan. 28, with a tentative 3.77 per cent increase to the municipal portion of the tax bill.
The funding is broken down into a 2.77 per cent increase in the operating/capital projects budget, plus an additional one per cent set aside for the new fire hall, which is expected to be operational by 2014. This coming year marks the final year of the additional one per cent increase to offset the construction costs of the new fire hall, which is expected to be constructed on Brock St., just west of Quaker Village Dr.
For the average Uxbridge residence, with an assessed value of $400,000, the increase amounts to an extra $40.15 per household for the year.
"It came down to essentially an increase of 2.77 per cent with an extra one per cent added for the final year of fire hall funding," explained Finance Committee Chair Pat Molloy, who also serves as councillor for Ward 2.
The final approval of the municipal budget is expected to take place at Council's meeting on the morning of Monday, Feb. 11.
Although the township has allocated $9,603,482 in spending for the next year, Councillor Molloy added that the budget is in large part, a financial framework for the township.
"This is a budget, and it's not necessarily cast in stone," explained Councillor Molloy. "It's a framework we're going to work with, although the nickels and dimes may change as the year goes on."
Councillors praised the work of township staff, including the various department managers for all of their hard work throughout the budget process. Last week, after council had already slashed several thousand dollars from the budget, department heads were again tasked with finding additional savings for the township's residents.
The various department heads returned to council chambers this week with an additional $115,800 taken out of the operating budget and an additional $281,500 removed from the capital projects budget.
Although the budget process is nearing an end for this year, several councillors noted that there are still several tough decisions ahead regarding municipally-owned assets.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle presented four such areas of concern to councillors at their meeting on Jan. 28.
Councillor Mantle raised concerns over the long-term viability of the Foster Memorial, the Uxbridge Historical Centre, the Siloam Hall and the Orange Hall in Goodwood.
The concerns raised by Councillor Mantle regarding the Foster Memorial dealt mainly with the facility's much-needed structural repairs, while the Historical Centre, Siloam Hall and Orange Hall all have similar issues with expenditures exceeding revenues.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor agreed with the majority of Councillor Mantle's sentiments, particularly with regards to the Foster Memorial, with the Mayor suggesting that the township look to the higher levels of government for support in maintaining the cultural landmark.
"We've got to be able to do something fast with the Foster," said Mayor O'Connor. "We saved it once, but we're not in a position to own and maintain it. This presents an opportunity for us to reach out to both the federal and provincial governments for support."
Bev Northeast, Councillor for Ward 1, also expressed concerns over the Foster Memorial, and pushed for a speedy resolution to the maintenance issues.
"We can't neglect the Foster any longer," said Councillor Northeast. "We need to look to someone who is going to take care of it over the long term. But, we need to start repairs right away because no one in their right mind is going to take it on needing over $800,000 in repairs."
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet went one step further, and encouraged staff to come up with a long-term plan to both fund and maintain township-owned properties.
"We need a long-term vision of how we are going to maintain these properties. What do we plan to do with them? How are we going to maintain them? We need to have a vision or goal for the asset and work the budget around that, not the other way around," said Councillor Highet.
Later, when Councillor Mantle proposed ongoing discussions throughout the year regarding the future maintenance of township facilities, it was met with great enthusiasm from Councillor Highet.
"It'll take us almost the entire year to get through all of our assets," commented Councillor Highet.
It was later noted by several councillors that the municipal portion is only one part of the larger tax bill.
Under the current funding model, the municipal portion of the tax bill accounts for approximately 20 per cent. The Durham District School Board receives 23 per cent of the tax levy, while the Region of Durham receives the remaining 57 per cent, of which approximately half is dedicated to the Durham Regional Police Service.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Calls by Ontario's Environmental Commissioner for increased regulation and responsibility for commercial fill by industry and the provincial government were among the viewpoints heard at last week's Large Scale Commercial Fill Symposium in Port Perry.
The day-long event, held jointly between Scugog Township and the Kawartha Conservation Authority at the Scugog Community Centre on Jan. 25, drew a full house of 260 attendees from across southern Ontario, bringing every perspective on the issue together in one room. From politicians and civil servants at all levels of government to community activists and industry members, attendees gathered to discuss a topic that has quickly become among the most prominent issues in southern Ontario's rural communities. As development of condominiums and transit extensions continues in places like downtown Toronto, the excavated soil is often trucked out to countryside dump spots, creating a financial windfall for property owners willing to collect urban dirt and raising numerous environmental and quality of life issues for involved municipalities.
The day began fittingly with a recap by Scugog CAO Bev Hendry of the commercial fill issue in Scugog Township, which began in 2010 with the purchase of a Lakeridge Rd. property by Earthworx Industries that eventually became a contested commercial fill site, resulting in a protracted legal battle between the business and the municipality. A 2011 provincial court decision ultimately ruled in favour of the township, when judges turned down Earthworx's defense of federal aviation legislation (the company contended it was constructing an airport) trumping municipal site alteration bylaws.
The lessons learned in that scenario, said Ms. Hendry, have been applied by the township in its dealings with the new owners of the Greenbank Airport, who, in 2012, suddenly announced an expansion plan that would require 2.5 million cubic metres of soil, to be trucked into the Hwy. 47 aviation facility over the next two years to raise the grade of the property. A municipal permit for that project was approved last fall, following numerous public meetings and discussions between the township and airport owners over the preceding months.
"We learned a lot (from Earthworx)," said Ms. Hendry. "First, we realized that there is no government agency in charge of managing fill. We also learned to trust our gut -if you ever have a situation where someone plays the airport card and hangs a windsock, separate the airport from the fill.... The court decision for Earthworx gave us confidence to deal with this - that fill was in the jurisdiction of the township. This story is not finished yet, but the lessons we've learned have turned our role from reactionary to acting first."
Bringing a municipal viewpoint from the opposite end of the fill spectrum was Toronto Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker. Known for his environmental views, the councillor outlined several eco-friendly uses for such material, which has been used to create nature sanctuaries such as Tommy Thompson Park on Toronto's Leslie Street Spit, a land feature that created entirely from leftover building material. The park has since become home to the largest colony of double crested cormorants in the Great Lakes and the largest colony of black crowned night herons in Canada.
"It shows that something good can happen from fill, especially if you plan in advance," said Councillor De Baeremaeker. "It all came from dirt. As a citizen, if you're talking about fill, it's bad. But fill is not going to go away - we're not going to stop building subways and LRTs. What we have to decide is what we're going to do about it. Are we going to fight over it, or minimize conflict and maximize our opportunities? There's many tools in the tool box that we need and fill is going to have to provide a net positive benefit for our environment and the public."
A familiar name since Scugog's commercial fill battle with Earthworx began almost three years ago, Carmela Marshall of community group Lakeridge Citizens for Clean Water informed attendees of the viewpoint from those living within close proximity of rural commercial fill sites. The group sprung up in reaction to the Earthworx site on Lakeridge Rd., raising concerns over potential impact to both drinking water and the natural environment from a fill site established on lands within the boundaries of the environmentally-significant Oak Ridges Moraine.
"The development boom has created a multi-million dollar industry," said Ms. Marshall. "But we believe that profits should not always come first. And in some cases, there's a blatant disregard for the law, such was the case in Scugog (with Earthworx). How this material is managed at the source and receiving sites plays a role. What's most concerning is the critical lack of testing for brownfield soils. The Ministry of the Environment doesn't currently require testing of material leaving brownfields, so often there's no record of soil removed or where it was sent."
Several other speakers identified critical gaps in provincial legislation that could potentially control the problems related with commercial fill. According to Josh Garfinkel of environmental group EarthROOTS and Chris Darling of the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, the issue of land use must be addressed in legislation such as the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan to exert more control over how and where fill is dumped in rural areas. Mr. Garfinkel added that if the matter is left up to individual municipalities, a patchwork of legislation results with the potential for neighbouring communities to have vastly different policies on fill.
"It's clear that smaller municipalities have little power in stopping fill but it's left up to them by the province and that's a problem," said Mr. Garfinkel. "Fill is not a new issue but the amount has increased. Earthroots is not opposed to fill - it's about doing it properly. Something is not working when citizens and local government have to turn to us non-profits for assistance. With a million people on the moraine relying on groundwater, it would be disastrous if water were to become polluted."
The afternoon featured the industry perspective of commercial fill matters, including a presentation by Partick Dovigi, CEO of waste remediation business Green For Life, which has been involved in numerous developments along Toronto's waterfront, treating excavated soil for contaminants before its shipped to receiving sites.
The company will be one of the sources of soil for the expansion plans at the Greenbank Airport, owned by Green For Life's Bob Munshaw. GFL/Direct Line's Pickering location is also where trucks, hauling from former industrial sites on the Toronto waterfront, were sent for soil treatment prior to hauling the dirt to the Earthworx Industries fill site on Lakeridge Rd. According to a statement by the Ministry of the Environment dated April 12, 2011, GFL/Direct Line 'began accepting soils in June 2010 and shipped treated soils to Earthworx beginning in September 2010.' It's unknown whether or not GFL/Direct Line would have received any of the soil placed at the Earthworx site that tested positive for a number of chemicals in 2010.
Mr. Dovigi later told the audience that if a new proposal from an undisclosed buyer to purchase the former Earthworx site goes through, GFL has agreed to help clean up the property. What the clean-up would entail was not explained at the meeting.
According to Mr. Dovigi, the company has begun to work more closely with those municipalities in which GFL's soil is dumped. The process he described is similar to the conditions agreed to between Scugog and Greenbank airport - creating a fill receiving plan and management plan, while ensuring a consultant is retained for the duration of the project and information is shared with the public via related web sites. He added that involved municipalities are also sharing in revenues generated from fill, in addition to any financial securities posted by a site owner.
"From our perspective, there's three things we know for sure," said Mr. Dovigi. "There's more construction and more contaminated soil to get rid of. It comes down to compliance and how we do it. What we're missing is how a site actually works. There's certain challenges - many small municipalities don't have the expertise to deal with fill.... What we've found to work, in coming up with a model, is to create transparency and open dialogue. The next step is to consult with the local conservation authority, the Ministry of Natural Resources and residents' groups prior to applications. We've also developed protocol to deal with concerns, creating a public liaison committee to deal with theses issues. We have to take the approach that anything leaving a site is potentially contaminated. Uncertainty leads to problems and rumours."
Moreen Miller, CEO of the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, told the audience that while former pits and quarries often used to receive fill are no longer under the organization's jurisdiction, she offered that increased control of such sites could be strengthened through clarified legislation at both the provincial and municipal level, regardless of boundary lines, adding that such material should be "going to the right places for the right reasons," such as the creation of ski hills or other uses. Ms. Miller also addressed the matter of site owners accepting soil for large payouts without doing the appropriate tests to guard against pollution.
"I'm not here today to tell you it doesn't go on," said Ms. Miller of dumping in old gravel pits. "We need to involve community-conscious companies (in managing fill). There's an elephant in the room - there's not enough money in the system to do the right amount of tests (for contaminants). You could spend $600 on tests and you still have to pay the driver. We're creating a system where there's not enough money so that everyone tests honestly."
Another problem, said Doug LeBlanc of soil management firm DLS Group, are inconsistencies in the testing process itself. Mr. LeBlanc, who was retained to inspect soil imported to the Earthworx site in 2010 and is now working with the Greenbank Airport project, told the symposium that certain chemicals, including mercury and benzene - "pass because there are problems in the testing process" used by most laboratories.
"Everything dumped at Greenbank is tracked by GPS and we can track each individual load," said Mr. LeBlanc. "We've turned down 10 sites since we've began."
As for who should be ultimately responsible for the disposal of such material, Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, told attendees that increased scrutiny needs to come from the province through the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Infrastructure, as opposed to the Ministry of the Environment.
"It's not about filling - it's about digging holes," said Mr. Miller. "Would you have a fill problem if they weren't digging holes in Toronto? This isn't your problem - it's theirs. They dig a hole six stories deep and that dirt comes here and drives you people nuts. They dig that deep to park cars - because Toronto needs that. Most of the time, they don't use the parking. We're digging holes and moving dirt without good reasons. It's cheaper to move than to incorporate into design, because the problem disappears with trucks.
Mr. Miller added that its those site operators that skip testing in favour of maximizing profit that need to be reined in with a combination of provincial legislation and increased industrial responsibility for such material.
"Currently, there's a huge opportunity for unlawful activities," said the commissioner. "I'm confident we can regulate the honest world of fill, but you can't regulate the mafia. It costs a lot to get rid of trucks of dirt and sometimes there's little or no sampling or tracking.
"The MOE is not the mechanism, they just handle the bad guys," added Mr. Miller. "It's not the conservation authorities' problem, either. You've got to put the monkey on the right back - excavation of earth materials must be managed on a life-cycle basis. From cradle to grave, the responsibility is the creator's responsibility - whoever dug the holes should bear the full cost. That's the central concept that's missing - it's always been someone else's problem. Big holes are also the result of the MMAH and MOI policies. These ministries are driving this type of intensification. Let's get it solved where it should be solved - at Queen''s Park and downtown Toronto."
The last word of the day went to Scugog Mayor Chuck Mercier, who has been dealing with the issue of commercial fill since being elected into office in October 2010, just weeks after the township revoked Earthworx Industries' site alteration after soil tests revealed excessive amounts of certain contaminants.
"People have asked me, 'why don't you just ban fill?'" said the mayor. "That usually creates bigger problems and court challenges, especially when industry and others have measures to manage. It's just talk if we don't do anything from the outcomes of today."
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The organizer of the Highlands of Durham Games appeared before Uxbridge Council this week to provide an update on the event for this coming year.
Steve Harrison appeared before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 21, to update council on the efforts of Ribfest and the Highland Games, as well as present a $500 donation to the township.
Last year was the first time both events were organized by the same group, and took place in back-to-back weekends at Elgin Park in Uxbridge. According to Mr. Harrison, combining the events proved to be a very successful endeavor and allowed organizers to cut their costs by a third.
"Being combined has saved both events," Mr. Harrison boasted. "We combined resources for everything and it was a success story, for both our event and the township."
Mr. Harrison added that there was record attendance at the Highland Games, and several residents told him that they attended Ribfest all three days.
New for this year at the Highland Games, Mr. Harrison mentioned that pipe bands from around the province would be invited to compete for the Elgin Award, which is fashioned out of an old oak tree. As well, there are plans for an outdoor play with a cast of roughly 90 people depicting the history of Scotland.
It was also noted that The Standard's popular Chrome in the Park Car Show at Ribfest would return in 2013 for a second year.
Talk soon shifted to the financial details of the event. Last week, council laid down a mandate that no group would be given no-rent access to the park without presenting financial reports to the township by March 1.
"I have only been asked for financial statements verbally, nothing in writing," Mr. Harrison said of the request, adding that he would be happy to cooperate and have township staff, including Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor look at his audited financial reports as he has done in the past.
Mr. Harrison, who noted that he slept at Elgin Park during Ribfest in order to protect the park, detailed the sparkling track record of the events in regards to mischief and other incidents.
"There has been no criminal activity, no vandalism, nothing in my 18 years with the event."
Since launching in the mid-90s, the Highland Games have grown substantially in reputation throughout the province. Mr. Harrison noted that the Games were ranked third out of 75 similar events in Ontario, and he remains committed to staging the event in Uxbridge.
"Despite offers to move the event to South Durham, I have no plans to do so. I love Elgin Park," said Mr. Harrison.
Although the park is offered by the township to the event free of charge, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast clarified that groups are billed for any work carried out by the municipality's Parks and Works Departments.
"We have the $1,000 bill to prove it," added Mr. Harrison.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who was a vocal opponent of the Ribfest event taking place last year, questioned the offering of the park rent-free.
"It bothers me that former residents have to pay an extra fee for our facilities, while a private business doesn't," said Councillor Ballinger.
However, Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis cautioned councillors about charging rent for the events at the park, and the ramifications such a move could have.
"Putting rent on the park might prevent those events from happening in the future," said Ms. Svelnis. "However, we could open up agreements with the Highland Games, Art in the Park and the Fair Board to have them provide financial statements."
Councillor Northeast sought the same treatment for all groups with talks shifting to groups disclosing financial details to the township.
"If we are going to do that, every group that operates should be doing the same. We can't pick and choose," commented Councillor Northeast.
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle attempted to clarify the matter of financial statements being provided to the municipality.
"It's not about money or rent. It's about accountability and council being reassured that we're proper stewards of the park," said Councillor Mantle. "I wouldn't want my personal financial statements strewn about town. Maybe there is another way to do it, such as a closed session of council."
Councillors later passed a motion approving Ribfest and the Highland Games for 2013.
Discussions surrounding lease agreements with user groups at Elgin Park are expected to continue in the fall.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
DURHAM: Durham's 'legacy landfills' throughout the Region's rural communities could be mined for recyclable materials and to reclaim the land for other future uses, said Works Commissioner Cliff Curtis, during a recent discussion of the Region's 2013 Solid Waste Management Servicing and Financing Study.
The document, presented and approved by the Region's Works committee on Jan. 10, detailed a number of items to be considered for the department's 2013 budget, as well as projects to be taken on by the department over the next five years.
The study went to Regional Council for approval on Jan. 23.
Those items include ongoing remediation projects at former landfill sites in both Oshawa and Brock Township, estimated to ring in at approximately $1.5 million and $4.2 million respectively over the coming year.
Discussion of the study quickly turned to proposed mining and reclamation of Durham's 'legacy landfills' - mostly those sites in Durham's rural communities that were assumed by the Region when it was incorporated in 1974 - to recover recyclable materials such as metals and prepare those former landfills for future use. The report outlined the project costs associated with reclaiming the Blackstock site as approximately $750,000. The report states that any waste materials would then be sent to the Durham-York incinerator in Clarington, and the former landfill hopefully returned to 'its original designation as part of the Greenbelt Natural Heritage System as defined by the Region's Official Plan.'
Reclamation of the property could also eliminate the need for the establishment of additional buffer lands around the defunct landfill, earmarked for 2015 at an estimated cost of $500,000.
Increased buffer zones have also been proposed at the same cost for the Scugog and Scott landfill sites, the latter of which has also been identified in the report as a potential candidate for future mining and reclamation.
"The intent is not to mine every legacy landfill, mainly those in rural areas," said Mr. Curtis. "Landfills are a perpetual responsibility and are generally bad news."
The report touched on a number of other issues pertaining to Durham's waste management program, including potential increases to the Region's waste diversion rate through the acceptance of additional plastics and porcelain into the recycling stream. Replying to a question from Scugog Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew regarding any potential increase to the diversion rate through these programs, Works staff said that such initiatives contributed only 0.1 per cent to Durham's diversion rate in 2012, which currently sits at approximately 53 per cent. The Region is aiming for a diversion rate of 70 per cent in the coming years.
Safety and dumping issues were also raised during the meeting.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said that although the Region's battery recycling pilot program was by and large a success - even landing Durham a Guinness World Record for most batteries collected in a single 24-hour period - residents need to be advised of the potential hazards associated with storing nine-volt batteries, which can short out and possibly ignite when in contact with other metal objects. Mr. Curtis said that the public will be notified of the matter in conjunction with the next battery pick-up.
Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster raised a matter of a different kind - the dumping of waste at Durham's thrift stores and clothing donation boxes. While the Clarington mayor said that other municipalities have offered financial incentives like tax credits to charities for collection of unusable items, Mr. Curtis said that "there is no room in the budget" to initiate such a program, adding that it's more "a matter of public education.
"People use those facilities like transfer stations," said the Works commissioner. "Most of that (unusable) material should be going to the dump."
Mr. Curtis went on to explain that the business of recycling is changing with less paper entering blue boxes and items like packaging more in demand by processors paid to take recyclable materials from municipalities.
"Recycling is an expensive proposition but its the right thing to do," added Mr. Curtis.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog's fire department has invoiced their first ice rescue in a new program to recoup some of the expenses involved in such activities.
Fire Chief Richard Miller said that the rescue in question involved an angler from Oshawa who ventured onto the Lake Scugog ice on Jan. 13 off the eastern shore of Scugog Island, as temperatures climbed to unseasonable highs that weekend. The invoicing comes following a council direction last year, in which local firefighters responding to ice rescue calls have now been tasked with asking for a name and address for billing purposes.
Chief Miller said that three trucks responded to the Jan. 13 call, with one on standby, resources that will be reflected in the invoicing formula of $500 per truck plus manpower. Similar to the department's illegal burn fines, recipients have the option of disputing the charges before council, said the chief.
The invoicing proposal came following a handful of rescue and recovery incidents over the course of a single weekend in January 2012, when numerous snowmobiles plunged through the ice of Lake Scugog. The total cost of recovering those vehicles was estimated by the chief at $10,660. Chief Miller told councillors that four trucks - at $500 apiece - and 29 firefighters responded to the first call, while three trucks responded to the second incident.
While he said that reaction to invoicing for ice rescues in the township has been mixed, the chief added that lake users need to exercise a degree of personal responsibility when venturing onto ice, especially in light of the high temperatures experienced before and during the Jan. 13 rescue.
"The ice conditions that weekend weren't conducive (to recreation)," said Chief Miller, "so people have to make up their own minds whether they believe they are safe. We (the department) say that no ice is safe ice.
"Some say its fair, others say its unfair," added the chief, "but this is what council has directed me to do. And if people are going to be on the lake and we have to rescue them, we're going to be asking for names and addresses so that we can send them a bill."
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The release of the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter's annual report has prompted one Uxbridge councillor to question whether the agreement between the two North Durham municipalities should continue being split 50/50.
Councillors were presented with the report at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 21, and it shows a large imbalance in use of services between the two municipalities.
Of the 137 dogs impounded by the Animal Shelter in 2012, 88 came from Scugog while just 38 came from Uxbridge. A further 11 were dropped off from other areas.
Cats showed an even greater discrepancy, with Scugog responsible for 230 of the 317 cats taken in by the Shelter in 2012
These figures, coupled with the fact that Uxbridge drew almost $3,000 more in tag sales prompted Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet to question the agreement between Uxbridge and Scugog.
"If Scugog is using two-thirds of the services at the shelter, then I feel they should be paying two-thirds of the cost," commented Councillor Highet.
Plans are currently in the works for the Shelter to be moved to a new facility on Lakeridge Rd., and the committee responsible for the project has been hard at work fundraising for the endeavor over the past two years. However, Councillor Highet insisted that the township can not wait for the facility to open to clear up the issue of service imbalance.
"I know that there are plans to build a new shelter, but I don't feel that this can wait until then," Councillor Highet added.
The report from Animal Control Manager Vicki McWhirter was ultimately received by council for information.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog Township will move onto the next phase of the Port Perry waterfront revitalization in the near future by preparing for a scheduled clean-up of the Old Mill, in anticipation of the long-standing structure's future use.
Recently, councillors approved a staff recommendation which will see T. Harris Environmental Management Inc. retained to oversee the cleaning of the building's interior, a long-time roost for pigeons, raccoons and other animals. Three companies have expressed interest in bidding on the cleaning contract, said the report.
The cost for retaining the environmental consultant is being capped at $4,400, taxes excluded.
The report explains that the clean-up is required prior to a structural audit of the mill, which will ultimately determine the fate of the building purchased by the township for $1.1 million in 2009.
Community Services director Don Gordon explained that prior to the clean-up, the building will need to be 'enveloped' in a new protective exterior preventing future leaks and animal intrusions. That process could take place concurrently with the hiring of the cleaning contractor, Mr. Gordon said.
Mr. Gordon added that the clean-up would not take place with remaining business tenants still in the building unless they are "comfortable" with the process. During a previous council meeting, Mr. Gordon noted that the manner of the clean-up will determine whether or not tenants can remain in the building during that part of the project.
"The concerns of the tenants are paramount," said Mr. Gordon.
Waterfront project manager Glenn Garwood outlined the importance of the clean-up in the overall waterfront plan.
"There's an opportunity with the mill," said Mr. Garwood. "If it's cleaned up and stabilized, it's an asset that we can lease out and help repay the debt on the building. We can get third parties to help with fixing the roof and walls. Even though there's a cost with the cleanup, it's a downpayment on the repairs.... It creates an incentive for proponents - better to do it first the way we want it done."
So far, $20,000 has been budgeted for the total clean-up (including the hiring of the environmental consultant) and structural audit costs for the mill. Despite concerns from council at previous meetings over potential increases in the cleaning expenses, Mr. Garwood told councillors on Nov. 26 that it's "unlikely" the clean-up and audit would surpass that total, adding that any money remaining from the $20,000 budgeted could be used to defer excess cleaning costs should they occur.
Responding to council inquiries regarding the township's course of action should the clean-up quotes exceed staff estimates, Mr. Gordon said that another option may be to transfer those expenses to whichever private developer that gets involved with the mill project, through the private-public partnership approach to the building's revitalization.
"(It's) conceivable that costs could be higher than anticipated," said Mr. Gordon. "We will report back to committee when we get proposals and will decide if the township can cover those costs or look at transferring the expense to the private sector."
Future monthly reports on the overall waterfront project are expected to address other aspects of the plan's second phase, including plans for the Port Perry Marina, Latcham Centre and Scugog Island Cruises.
BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Two RH Cornish Public School students, both of whom carried out unique fundraisers, were among the many North Durham residents contributing in 2012 to the future construction of a new Scugog-Uxbridge Animal Shelter.
Aiden Wilcox, 12, and Olivia Summerhays, 7, each carried out their own fundraising initiatives for the new shelter, raising close to $700 for the cause. The two students were recently presented with plaques from the committee, commemorating their efforts.
Aiden, who raised several hundred dollars in 2011 for the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes by vowing to dye his hair bright pink, raised funds in a similar fashion last fall in support of two charities - the new Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Shelter and International Justice Mission, a charity which rescues child and adult slaves around the world.
True to his word, Aiden followed through on a vow to donors in 2011 to dye his hair a colour of their choosing. By popular vote, 'zebra stripes' was the top pick and once again, Aiden headed into Shagg's Hair and Body Works in Port Perry to get a new look.
This past fall, Aiden raised approximately $1,300 for the two causes, donating $500 of that money to the new animal shelter.
According to mom Mary, Aiden started his fundraising initiatives in 2010 with a church campaign called Do a Dare for Africa, where participants 'dare' themselves to take on something outside of their comfort zone - like having pink hair - to raise funds for a worthy cause. Through that pink hair dare, Aiden raised $900 to help with education endeavours in Uganda.
Following a presentation by one of her teachers this past year, Olivia began looking for a way to help out the local shelter and found the answer in artwork. She began painting pictures to sell for charity, eventually totalling $189 from the sales of her art, all of which was donated to the shelter committee.
The two local students said they plan to continue their fundraising efforts for the shelter, with Aiden recently starting a web site for his charitable endeavours at www.campaignchangetheworld.com.
The shelter committee is also receiving plenty of ongoing help from students and staff of North Durham schools through the in-school 'Pennies For Paws' campaign, in which coins (particularly pennies) are being collected to help fund the new facility.
"This is a testament to how good our kids in this community are," said shelter committee member Art Matthews of efforts by youth like Aiden and Olivia. "It's invigorating to see our local youth engaged in such activities and it reflects the community at large."
According to Mr. Matthews, more than $100,000 has been raised in North Durham since the proposal for a new shelter was pitched in January 2011 - approximately one-tenth of the committee's fundraising goals, he said.
Mr. Matthews said the committee's plans for the new year will focus on grant proposals and a major donor campaign, made possible by the committee's recent successful incorporation as a registered charity. He added those plans will roll out over the next three months.
A final architectural design of the new shelter, to be located on a Lakeridge Rd. property in Uxbridge, will also be finalized by March 31, said Mr. Matthews.
A number of fundraising events have also been planned for 2013, said Mr. Matthews. Those include the second annual gala fundraiser on May 4 at Mill Run Golf Club, a June 27 charity golf tournament at Oakridge Golf Club, as well as a Scugog-Uxbridge walkathon and charity bingo (details and dates for those two events are yet to be announced).
Last year's gala raised more than $30,000 for the new shelter, according to a release from the committee.
For more information or to make an on-line donation, visit www.animal-shelter.ca.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision not to hear an appeal from Scugog and Oshawa in regards to the Deering sisters case recently drew concerns from a pair of veteran Uxbridge Councillors.
At council's meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 7, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor and Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast both spoke out about the recent ruling that left the Township of Scugog and the City of Oshawa each one-third responsible for the Coates Rd. crash that left the sisters paralyzed in August 2004.
"I'm really concerned about the ruling in the Deering case," Councillor Northeast commented. "What is the interpretation of reasonable safety standards for our roads?"
Councillor Northeast went on to question just what increased safety standards may mean for some of Uxbridge's more picturesque roads.
"We're really in big trouble financially and ascetically if we have to change Conc. 6 and 7," she said.
In the wake of the ruling, Township Public Works Director Ben Kester is scheduled to meet with the Region's insurance provider in an effort to gain insight into any changes to municipal operating procedures.
"Be sure to ask the judge if you see him, if he's ever actually driven on a rural road," Mayor O'Connor said.
The mayor went on to question how the municipality is supposed to handle changes to safety on rural roads.
"I don't know how you would mark a gravel road," commented Mayor O'Connor.