At the halfway point in the municipal term, Mayor McFadden felt it was time for another check in with township residents to hear their concerns and receive feedback on current issues on the minds of ratepayers. McFadden collected topics from the 25 residents who joined him at Galerie Q on November 10th, allocating equal time to each topic to ensure no one issue dominated the discussion.
The first topic raised was the fundraising initiative in support of a new Community Centre that was the subject of letters received by some residents. A professional fundraising consultant has been hired to co-ordinate this early stage discussion to measure the level of support, interest and capacity of the community in a fundraising campaign feasibility study for this particular project. The study will also include a customized community fundraising campaign including achievable fundraising goals which will be used as the basis for a contract for the implementation of a fundraising campaign.
The second topic of discussion was the status of prospecting in the area for new wind turbine sites. Mayor McFadden reported that since the suspension of large renewable projects announced in October, he is unaware of wind developers seeking new hosts in our area. Councillor Landry reported that she had accompanied McFadden at a provincial Energy Symposium and commented that despite a more open attitude demonstrated by the recently appointed Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, there was little good news on the horizon for Ontario hydro users as the province struggles with decisions over significant infrastructure projects to feed the grid in the next few decades.
With a municipal appetite for cash facing pushback from existing ratepayers, one resident asked why severances approvals were so difficult to secure these days, suggesting a new lot meant a new source of revenue for the township. The mayor explained that the most recent Official Plan which came into effect in January 2015 restricts the areas for development to hamlets such as Mount Pleasant, Ida and the town of Millbrook. The extensive document outlines the framework that guides growth and development within the municipality and is subject to provincial policies, including the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the 2005 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe as well as the County of Peterborough Official Plan. There is an argument about whether growth “pays for itself”, and among current Council members there is no consensus on this issue when it comes to residential development as new homes require new services.
The future of the Transfer station was raised, but discussion about this facility has not yet come before Council but could do so during this month’s budget deliberations.
A complaint was raised about speeding along Highway 7A. Mayor McFadden explained that this highway is monitored by the OPP and as such is not under direct municipal jurisdiction. The Peterborough Police monitor traffic in the township and have been quite responsive to calls about speeding concerns on local roads. Some in the audience believe they are too enthusiastic in this regard.
The Mayor went on to say that the $1.2 million spent annually on policing in the township represents almost a quarter of the township’s operating budget. The other significant operating budget components are: public works including road maintenance for $1.7 million, protective services including the Fire Department for $640 thousand and Parks and Facilities at $624 thousand.
Priorities for the next term will be the topic of the next few Council meetings as budget deliberations begin on December 5th for the 2017 year. KG