Petition prompts community exemption and bylaw review

By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Petition prompts community exemption and bylaw review
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CORNWALL, Ontario – A petition over driveway widths in St. Andrews West has prompted an exemption, and a review of SDG County policies.

SDG county council received a petition signed by more than 50 residents on County Road 18 in St. Andrews West calling for the property driveways to be returned to the original width and configuration.

That section of road through the village is currently under construction and any driveways considered to be “legal non-conforming” according to the bylaw were being changed as the county replaced culverts. Driveways wider than five metres were cut back, while properties with more than one entrance had other entrances closed. The county last updated its culvert bylaw in 2017.

Council discussed the matter at its September 20 regular meeting.  Councillor Bryan McGillis (South Stormont) argued that the driveways should be restored to the pre-construction width.

Councillor Jim Wert (North Stormont) cautioned that if an exemption was given for residents in St. Andrews West, other areas including previously reconstructed areas since the bylaw was changed, could ask for changes.

Warden Allan Armstrong cautioned council that the driveway bylaw does not affect only one part of the county.

“It’s not just St. Andrews West or any particular spot that has more issues than this, it’s all SDG,” he said. “So if we are going to go through a bunch of motions, please start writing them now. Or we can go through this bylaw which I agree perhaps does have some issues.”

SDG County Director of Transportation Ben deHaan said he was looking for clear guidance for what to tell the contractor already working on the project.

After 25 minutes of discussion, council approved in a recorded vote waiving the surface width provisions from the  driveway bylaw in St. Andrews West.

Councillors Byvelds, Gardner, Jaworski, McGillis, Smith, Warden, and Williams voted waiving the width provisions, Councillors Fraser, MacDonald, Wert, and Armstrong voted against. Councillor Frank Landry was not at the meeting.

Another already underway project in Martintown is not exempt so residents there will still see their driveways modified if culverts are replaced.

Council also supported granting an individual exemption for one property in St. Andrews West, which was a carry-over from the August meeting. That motion included bringing back the driveway bylaw (5122) for discussion and adding provisions. Staff will bring a report to a future council meeting for discussion.

In other business discussed:

• County councillors Carma Williams (North Glengarry) and Bryan McGillis (South Stormont) put their names forward for the upcoming warden election. This will be the fourth and final warden election for this term of county council.

Councillors will choose the new warden at the October 18 regular meeting. During this term of council, two of the three wardens selected have been from Glengarry County. Warden Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) is the only non-Glengarry warden elected. He began his shortened term as warden following the disqualification of the previous warden.

• County council voted to accept a proposal from Keystone Bridge Management for the design of the Black Creek Bridge project. The bridge, located on County Road 18 between Dixon’s Corners and Hanesville. The bridge was built in 1978 and this will be the first major rehabilitation project completed by the county. Keystone had the highest score out of the five proposals submitted. The contract for the design will cost $34,125. The project is expected to be included in the 2022 budget for consideration.

• County councillors supported a motion to request changes at the provincial level for Community Improvement Plans for municipalities. Current legislation and regulations require the county and all six lower-tier municipalities to approve changes to the county-run program. Citing a 700 per cent return on investment in the county, staff recommended the changes to eliminate some of the red tape involved with administering the program.

• SDG County’s transportation department is working ahead to order the latest replacement snowplow. The county replaces one plow per year as part of its procurement and fleet management policies. Citing extended timelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, staff said it was better to work ahead. Council agreed and endorsed the action.

• The transportation department  also received approval for buying an anti-icing tank for use during the winter snow clearing season. The tank will be used to retrofit a surplus snow plow for use on the roads this winter. The equipment costs $32,500 and will be paid out of department reserves.

• Following a closed session, council voted to support development of a vaccination policy for all county employees. CAO Tim Simpson will bring a draft policy to the October council meeting for discussion.

• Council also voted to not give SDG staff the day off September 30 for the new federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation holiday. Instead, there will be education events for staff to attend.

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