Council Meeting addresses Housing, Recreation, Bilingual Services, and Waste Initiatives

Article by Jason Setnyk
Council Meeting addresses Housing, Recreation, Bilingual Services, and Waste Initiatives

Cornwall, Ontario – Members of Cornwall City Council met in the Council Chambers of City Hall on February 13, 2024, for its regular biweekly meeting. The mayor and all councillors were in attendance. Here are the key highlights.

Massey Place Housing Initiative

The start of the meeting was dedicated to the Massey Place update, presented by Lisa Smith, Manager of Housing Services, and Mellissa Morgan, General Manager of Human Services and Long-Term Care. Council was briefed on the ambitious plans to expand the housing project, with an increase from 9 to 24 units, including a mix of micro-units, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom accommodations. This expansion necessitates an additional $2-5 million, making it necessary to borrow those additional funds. The next step is a funding application to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The report highlighted the project’s alignment with Council’s strategic priority of “Housing For All” and its commitment to accessibility, ensuring all units are barrier-free.

Multisport Outdoor Recreation Facility Proposal

Council received a comprehensive report on the feasibility of establishing a multisport outdoor recreation facility, a motion initiated by Councillor Dean Hollingsworth. Prepared by James Fawthrop and Lori Gibeau from the Planning, Development, and Recreation Department, the report outlines a projected cost of $3.5 million for constructing a multisport artificial turf field, complete with essential amenities like overhead lighting and an irrigation system. Additional facilities, including natural turf fields, a clubhouse, extra parking, and a scoreboard with a PA system, could bring the total investment to around $6.85 million. This initiative aligns with the council’s strategic priorities of enhancing community connections. The report also suggests the Benson Centre as a potential location, leveraging existing amenities unavailable at the Bob Turner location or elsewhere to save cost. “What peaked my attention was the ability to host football events… it sounds like we’re restricting some organizations in our community to host events, which generates revenue and tourism,” said Mayor Justin Towndale.

City Commitment to Bilingual Services

In a move towards further inclusivity, Council reviewed a report on the state of French services the city offers. The report, prompted by Mayor Justin Towndale’s direction, and prepared and delivered by City Clerk Manon Levesque, revealed that more than half of front-facing city positions can offer services in French, with plans to enhance bilingual service delivery further. Of 397 front-facing positions, a total of 250 (or 62.97%) can provide services in the French language. Of all 925.5 positions, a total of 427 (or 46.14%) can offer services in the French language. Suggested ways to increase the number of people who can communicate in French are to have more bilingual positions and offer free French training to staff. This kind of initiative reflects council’s dedication to serving Cornwall’s French-speaking community, ensuring that services in both official languages are available and actively offered. “I think being able to serve people in both official languages is a wonderful thing. We should be proud of it as a community,” Councillor Maurice Dupelle shared.

Mandatory Recycling and Clear Bag Collection Program Debated

Council debated an initiative to implement a Mandatory Recycling and Clear Bag Collection Program aimed at increasing the diversion of recyclable and organic materials, thereby preserving the capacity of the city’s landfill facility. Scheduled for a soft launch on January 1, 2025, and full enforcement by April 1, 2025, the program will see an increase in the allowable curbside waste set-out bag limit from two to four bags. This initiative follows a comprehensive study by the Waste Management Department, revealing that a sizable minority of households and businesses do not participate in curbside recycling. The program also addresses the upcoming provincial mandate for organic waste diversion. Despite concerns from residents regarding privacy, the report argues the program will lead to long-term cost savings. “I think whatever activities we can do to encourage and maximize the longevity of the landfill, we’re going to see tax savings to our residents, the taxpayers,” Councillor Sarah Good stated. Carilyn Hebert expressed concern about moving from two bags to four; however, a slight majority voted in favour of the report’s recommendation of four bags.

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