by Bryan McGillis
As South Stormont Mayor, while reflecting on this four-year term of Council, I would like to provide a mid-term report to our taxpayers. Council and staff have been busy -governing, planning and managing township projects.
Last year, the overall tax increase was 1.7%; our goal for 2009 is to keep a line of taxes pending budget deliberations. Province wide, all property assessments have been updated by MPAC and over the next four years the new assessments will be phased-in, with the largest portion of increase affecting waterfront properties. Details concerning 2009 budget meeting dates, etc. will be announced in the new year. Ensuring funds for specific projects, consideration will include the continuation of increasing Township Reserve Funds.
First a mid-term recap: • Work continues to consolidate the Zoning By-law, we anticipate discussion via public meetings to commence in 2009. • Construction is well underway for the replacement of the last and final large South Stormont bridge structure, namely McMillan Bridge, completion scheduled for May 2009; watch for official ribbon cutting ceremony details. • Projects as outlined in the Township’s 5-year Road Program continues; additional provincial funding for 2008 allowed us to include the total reconstruction of Island Road at a cost of $922,000.00. • Arrangements and attendance at several Ministerial meetings throughout 2008; these included Environment, Natural Resources, Finance, Tourism, Transportation and, participation in the first SD-SG Day at Queen’s Park. These face-to-face meetings with the Ministers allow your municipal representatives an opportunity to share matters and concerns affecting us all. • Pursuit of partnerships to plan for compatible projects including administrative facilities, waterfront initiatives plus on-going projects with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. • Approval of the Ingleside Library Expansion project -construction will commence in 2009. The Ingleside Friends Group has agreed to fund raise $100,000.00 towards this project. • Other parks and recreation developments include the facade improvement at the Long Sault Arena. In 2009, watch for the delivery of the new ice making machine. • Council approved an Advertising and Sponsorship Policy to accommodate advertising on various Township assets including the new Zamboni, waste management vehicles, newly acquired waste receptacles at the shopping plazas, etc. • For historical purposes, Council agreed to re-name the St. Andrews pool to the “Simon Fraser Community Park”. An official recognition event is being planned, including new signage. • Historically speaking, South Stormont celebrated in the first ceremony of eighteen ceremonies to be held across the province in recognition of the Ontario Premier Gravesites Program. On November 13, I participated with the unveiling of a plaque in honor of the first Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Sir John Sandfield MacDonald buried at the historical St. Andrew’s Cemetery. • Environment awareness initiatives including energy conservation programs continue; specifically, an active battery recycling program on-going in cooperation with our local libraries, completion of the solar panel lighting to illuminate the South Stormont 401 signage, enthusiastic Community Clean-up and Community Yard Sale Days, Kilowatt Countdown Challenge, and as recent as December 2008, the approval of the Electricity Procurement Policy with significant potential for hydro savings. Staff continues to pursue these types of effective and efficient programs to attain savings to our taxpayers. • Purchase of recycling and garbage vehicles to maintain the in-house waste management program. • The Report for Phase II of the Business Retention and Expansion Program (BR+E) is now complete. Economic development, residential and business initiatives continue. Surplus township properties have been listed with local real estate to stimulate further growth. One surplus lot was donated to a worthy cause -Habitat for Humanity. • Council concurred with new Ingleside Plaza signage now underway; the branding partnership in collaboration with South Dundas continues. Shortly, 45th Parallel signage will be installed in Ingleside. Furthermore, staff will continue to pursue further funding opportunities for potential mall fac;:ade improvements, hamlet banner installation...all of this in support of local, small business promotion and expansion. • The Township Finance Department initiated a pilot test project for the SDG Region, that being the iCitizen Program. This program entitles individual property tax account access capabilities. Additionally, finance worked Vigorously to ensure compliance with the new provincial accounting regulations known as PSAB. • Staff continue to inventory Township assets via GIS -geographic information systems. This electronic information permits easy and quick access to precise documentation of required information, for example, water hydrant location and size, municipal drainage, zoning, etc. • Continuation of our drainage maintenance program including the removal of beaver dams, etc. • Through the Emergency Management program, the Township of South Stormont is once again certified compliant as a “Disaster Resilient Community”. Work continues for a Business Continuity Plan for use, as an example, for the Influenza Pandemic.
As we look forward to 2009, Council has agreed to maintain the level of service as provided to our
taxpayers. During budget deliberations, final plans and services provided may be fine-tuned.
Some specific projects being planned include: • Building construction activities continue to increase. In addition to the sale of surplus lands, Township Council has agreed to develop prime residential lands; still in its planning stages. • One Fire Chief position with divisional chiefs at current hamlet locations. The Water Tanker Shuttle Program is underway. This program will provide for direct home insurance savings to Township taxpayers. • Expansion of the current Ingleside Library for a total square footage planned at 2,551. • Parks and Recreation Master Plan project focus. Public meetings are now complete and therefore a plan should be formalized for future recreational planning including specific projects. • Other planned events include the 5th Annual Pond Hockey Tournament, promising to be bigger and better than ever. New for 2009 is “Beacon 50”; festivities are being planned for a week long celebration, regarding the flooding of the St. Lawrence Seaway and looking to the future. Other community events hosted by the Township include the annual Farran Park Relay for Life, Ingleside Firefighters Challenge, and other charitable fundraising initiatives. With the support of Council and township staff, our volunteers continue to be important resource, and are the integral backbone to ensuring these events occur. • A waterline extension to the hamlet of Osnabruck Centre; funding is being pursued. • Water conservation projects will be reviewed and could include programs such as a rain barrel program, a low flow toilet program, etc. We will facilitate suggestions however these initiatives will require the participation of our residents.
As indicated, we anticipate the completion of projects such as the consolidation of the comprehensive Zoning By-law, economic development initiatives including partnerships and other recreational projects and will endeavour to maintain the level of services as provided.
In closing, thank you for the support entrusted to us as your elected municipal officials, and to the staff of the Township of South Stormont.
by Bryan McGillis