Council Meeting – April 2, 2019

by Edith Cody-Rice

Watch for the Old Town Hall to turn purple on May 5. The item was one of the last on council’s to do list at the meeting on Tuesday April 2. Floodlights lighting up the Old Town Hall will be switched to purple in honor of pulmonary hypertension day to raise awareness of  this disease.

But more important matters dominated the meeting which again attracted a large cohort of local citizens.  After a closed door meeting at the beginning of the evening Council appointed Steve Giberson as the Interim Fire Chief effective April 8, 2019.

Kim Bennett and Tracy McIntyre from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) delivered a presentation to council regarding the assessment and taxation process. Mississippi Mills has 7,771 assessed properties which represents $2,051,623,888 in assessed value. Assuming property characteristics stay the same, they told council that a property assessment will increase by $7500 from one assessment to another. Assessments are carried out every four years and the increase in an assessment is phased in over the intervening four years. In Mississippi Mills the distribution of properties is:  6268 residential, 654 farm, 253 commercial, 45 industrial, 382 exempt and 23 multi-residential  residential.

Council proclaimed May 5th to 11th as Emergency Preparedness Week in an effort to raise awareness of the need to prepare for the possibility of an emergency. The Municipality will publish information and helpful tips during that week on the municipal website.

Filming for a Canadian movie, The Exchange will begin next week and continue throughout the month of April. The movie is a coming of age comedy about a small town Canadian high school student in the 1980’s. Council approved a number of rolling road closures and parking restrictions in order to allow for filming in Almonte. Notices of road closures and detours will be advertised. Filming locations include: Mill Street, Little Bridge Street, Brae Street, McCarther Road, The White Owl (inside and out), the Superior Restaurant (inside & out). Cheerfully Made (inside & out) and the former Ultramar Parking lot. Staff noted that this is a Canadian film written by a Canadian and set in Canada so only Canadian flags will be flown during the filming. The crew have been very cooperative, offering to use local children in the film and to pay for parking spots to be used for the film. Councillor Dalgity raised the question of loss of commerce to those businesses which abut filming locations. Consideration should be given to compensation for this loss although how it would be determined was not discussed. No town staff time will be devoted to the filming. The movie company will hire the OPP to be on site for all road closures and a private company to coordinate detours and manage traffic stoppages. The company will be required to notify all residents impacted areas in writing. The movie company will spend $110,000 in Almonte during the 20 day span of shooting.

In light of the number of movies being shot in town, staff will give consideration to developing a film policy.

During the meeting Councillor Guerard, supported Councillor Maydan suggested that Mayor Christa Lowry could be replaced a chair of the committee of the whole. Referring to Roberts Rules, they noted to sections that permitted this. Mayor Lowry commented that this was not on the agenda and the clerk reviewed the town procedural bylaw which overrides Roberts Rules and stated that s. 72 designates the mayor as chair of the committee of the whole. . This may be revisited in the future when the procedural bylaw is overhauled.

In response to a Ministry of Labour non-compliance order on the municipality’s workplace harassment policy and procedures, Council members, sitting as committee of the whole, approved workplace harassment and violence policies and respect in the workplace procedures.

The Director of Roads and Public Works put forward a proposal to submit an application to receive funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for the replacement of the Levi Bridge. If the application is successful the ICIP would pay for upwards of 83% of the total cost to replace the Levi Bridge. Levi Bridge is the last major bridge to be repaired in the community.

After a ten year review, Council passed final revisions to the Community Official Plan (COP). Staff will forward the proposed revisions to Lanark County before final approval is granted by the Province. Even though final revisions to the COP were approved at the meeting, there may be future amendments to the COP depending on the direction the Province takes with regards to planning policies. Director of Planning Niki Dwyer displayed an impressive command of her file and with the exception of one recommendation, all of her recommendations were accepted. She suggested that council could make quick decisions on the the vast majority of changes. Councillor Ferguson hoped that severance of some rural lands could be increased, however, Planner Dwyer indicated that this was not the case.

Council approved $3,682,100 in financing at a fixed rate of 2.9% over ten years to finance bridge and culvert work, Gemmill Park and facility improvements.

Council also approved amendments to the Water and Sewer By-law which will now set monthly penalty and interest charges to 1.25% on the past due balances.