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Collective political opinions of the community

Mayor Don’s Update August 5, 2021

Swaley Drain Preliminary Report and Public Meeting Springwater 

Council held a virtual Public Meeting on August 4, 2021 to receive comments from affected landowners regarding the Swaley Drain Preliminary Report (PR) and to consider direction to authorize a Final Report by the Drainage Engineer. K. Smart Associates Ltd. (KSAL) was retained as Engineers in 2016 to provide the PR.

The Swaley Drain “Swaley” is a legal Municipal Drain leading into the Minesing Wetlands that has existed since the early 1900s. It serves approximately 4,000 acres of mainly prime agricultural land in Springwater. Over the years, problems have developed and worsened in the Swaley, including high water levels and lack of proper drainage in its lower parts. 

For a variety of reasons, it remains necessary to work with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) on the implementation of a work option. Negotiations with the NVCA regarding work options, and an environmental study, have been ongoing since 2018. 

The PR recommends extending the Swaley by 950 meters into the wetlands using an excavator sitting on a barge. Materials excavated would be deposited on either side of the channel and would be assimilated into the adjacent wetland grasses. Minimal future maintenance is expected to be necessary. The estimated cost of the project is $350,000, with half spent for studies to date and the remainder required to complete the project. The allocation of costs will be included in the Final Report. 

Based on the outcome of the Public Meeting and other necessary meetings and considerations, Council will direct KSAL to produce the Final Report. Once the Final Report receives Council’s approval, it will then be submitted to the regulatory agencies for their final approval. After all appeals and approvals are addressed, construction will occur. Construction must occur in early winter and should only take two months. The target is to complete this project over a 2021/2022 construction period. 

We have reached a very important milestone in this exercise, which required the NVCA Board of Directors to agree to the revised strategy recommended by KSAL. I hope Council agrees with the recommendations and we move toward finalization of this needed repair work starting in 2021 as we need to get this long overdue project completed as soon as possible. 

Simcoe Solid Waste Management Workshop – New Automated Cart Collection System

On July 27, the County of Simcoe held a workshop for County Councillors regarding waste in Simcoe County. Summary statistics and observations include:

• County diversion rate increased to 64% in 2020 from 61% in 2019;

• Total waste generated per capita was estimated in 2010 to decrease 1% per year but has increased substantially to 459 kg/capita from 394 kg/capital in 2010 – the wrong direction;

• Diversion is stagnant; there is need to focus on reduction and prevention initiatives to address growing consumption;

• County landfill closures: Collingwood in 2024 and Oro-Medonte in 2029. County disposal capacity will be finished in 2029. Current direction is to export waste for disposal when capacity expires;

• Continued research into incineration (Waste to Energy WTE) – major partner would be required due to scale required plus need to deal with ash disposal; more expensive than landfilling; challenge of finding a proper site;

• 27% of Ontario waste is exported to U.S. with 87% of Ontario exported waste going to Michigan landfills;

• Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) update targets – Materials Management Facility (MMF) 2022 site clearing and servicing; 2023 construction and operations. Organics Processing Facility (OPF) 2024 construction and 2026 operations;

• Blue Box Transition – producer responsibility; legislative changes timeline reviewed;

• Financial implications – operating and capital requirements for all of these elements;

• Miller Waste contract update and carts. Much mixed reaction to planned larger carts;

• New carts to be delivered August 3 to October 23. Residents should store their new carts and continue to use current containers or bags until the launch of the new collection system starting November 1. The County will be releasing a special 15-month calendar in the fall containing important information on waste collection changes. The frequency of collections will remain the same, with weekly organics collection and alternating bi-weekly garbage and recycling collection;

• After November 1, unwanted green bins, recycling boxes and garbage pails can be re-purposed or brought to a County Waste Facility for a limited time to be recycled;

• County awaiting information from Briars pilot program using smaller carts.

For further information on the new Automated Cart Collection system, visit carts.simcoe.ca or download the Simcoe County Collects app from the App Store or Google Play. Residents may also learn more by watching the recording of last month’s virtual Public Information Centre at bit.ly/379khME.

I want to hear more about the possibility of using smaller cart sizes before I support what is currently planned. I also want the County to fully research alternative technologies for waste disposal such as Waste to Energy and other practices in countries more developed in waste disposal strategy than we are in Canada. I would like this to come to County Council for review and consideration. I am working on this.

Springwater Fire Station RFP Update

Springwater has been trying to get a new Fire Station 2 built for over 10 years. In 2020, Council approved an RFP for a four-bay station with 24/7 operation and an adjacent training facility to serve the Georgian College Pre-Service Firefighting Program, to be located on the newly acquired 1132 Snow Valley Road (Hasty Tract) property. At that time, Council approved a budget of $3.9 million for the Fire Station ($280 per square foot) and $1.25 million for the fire training area, totaling $5.2 million. This figure was based on a design from 2014 and the 2018 Development Charge Background Study. It is now thought to be on the low side, given the fact that it’s a dated estimate and the soaring prices during COVID.

An RFP was issued in April 2021 and the Project Team has carefully analyzed the three qualifying respondents’ submissions. The bids for the fire station range from $5.2 to $7.7 million ($316 to $475 per square foot). This does not come as a surprise as mentioned, with the price increases and other factors arising over the last three years. The Fire Service Training Area remains estimated at $1.25 million. 

Through a report to Council, staff is recommending that the present RFP be cancelled and re-issued with an amended project scope, including an identified budget, known variables and construction occurring in 2022. The resolution before Council this week is to cancel the RFP and amend the scope of a new RFP to include a defined budget with an upper limit of $7 million. It is hoped this will attract more interest and more bids, and result in lower pricing increases. This project is 75% development charge eligible and back in 2014, it was projected to require $1.3 million of debt financing. Staff would endeavor to come in at less than the maximum revised budget. If the Fire Station project budget did come in at the revised maximum of $7 million and the Fire Service Training area remains at $1.25 million, the revised funding would be $6.2 million from development charges and $2.1 million through debt financing. The increased required debt financing for the increased financing for the Fire Station in this scenario would be $768,000 over the previous amount and would cost an additional estimated $54,900 annually assuming 20-year financing at 3.75% and $92,800 annually for 10-year financing.

I am committed to having this new fire station and training center built at this location by the end of 2022 and I know the costs will be controlled and kept to the lowest acceptable level to provide the required result and service. I hope Council will agree with this.

Orr Lake Conditions Update

Every two weeks until October, Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) is releasing a Conditions Update for Orr Lake. The Conditions Updates include results from sampling and in-the-field observations of lake conditions and water quality. 

As of July 19, SSEA reported water levels to be higher than June averages due to recent rainfall. Temperatures were considered warm at 24.6˚C and low water clarity was attributed to algae and lake sediments getting stirred up. Oxygen levels remained above the Provincial Water Quality Objectives for cold and warm water fish, although high temperatures may cause stress.

SSEA is also reminding residents to do their part to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Thoroughly wash watercraft before storage or use on different bodies of water, plant native species in gardens, and avoid using non-native and invasive species for landscaping. 

To see the latest Conditions Update for Orr Lake, visit severnsound.ca/results.

New LINX Transit Route 

On August 3, Simcoe County LINX launched Transit Service Route 6, which provides hourly service from the Town of Midland to the City of Orillia. Ridership on the new route is free until September 3, 2021, with regular fare rates starting after Labour Day. 

Route 6 includes stops in Victoria Harbour, Waubaushene, Coldwater and Warminster, providing enhanced access to health, recreation, service and employment opportunities in traditionally underserviced areas in the northern part of Simcoe County. With the launch of Route 6, the County of Simcoe has completed its goal to create a regional transit service as part of its broader Transit Implementation Plan. 

As with all LINX routes, fares are determined by zones and are either $2, $4 or $6 depending on zones travelled along Route 6. View further details at simcoe.ca/Transit.

Work in Simcoe County

Explore local career opportunities in a range of industries through the Work in Simcoe County virtual portal. This one-stop shop includes training, recruiting and funding resources for job seekers and employers alike. Use the job board to help plan your career, find the right job and learn more about what the area has to offer. The website automatically aggregates listings from over 20 popular jobsites and users can filter listings by region, job type and skill level.

To access the job portal, visit workinsimcoecounty.ca/jobs.

These are my thoughts and do not reflect those of Council perhaps.

Stay well.

A Message from Doug Downey, MPP

Throughout the pandemic, our farmers have continued to provide food and produce for Canadians, keeping our shelves stocked and our communities fed. In order to help support the efforts of these farmers, the governments of Ontario and Canada are jointly investing $7.3 million through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to help support farmers and agri-food businesses. The investment will fund projects in priority areas that increase food safety, accelerate sector innovation and help farmers bring new products to the market to grow their businesses.

This funding supports more than 600 cost-shared projects that strengthen Ontario’s agri-food sector by helping eligible farmers in over 270 communities across the province to continue producing safe, high quality food in Ontario. Of this funding, $3,585 will be coming directly into our community to help support farmers across Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte.

Positive outcomes of projects funded under this intake include:

Improvement of food safety systems on farms to meet or exceed national and international certification standards;

Development of products that will open new sales markets for farm businesses for example, a new organic pepper product to expand markets or developing maple butter as a new, value-added farm product;

Planting cover crops to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion losses over winter;

Increasing preventative measures to help reduce pest damage at greenhouse operations; and

Upgrades to animal-handling equipment to improve animal welfare and reduce disease transmission on livestock farms.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed over $100 million in cost-share support to more than 5,000 projects through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to help eligible farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. This commitment includes $2 billion for programs that are cost-shared by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and are designed and delivered by provinces and territories. In Ontario, cost-share programming to support farmers and other businesses through this Partnership is delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 860,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.3 billion each year to the province’s economy.

A Message from Doug Shipley, MP

Summer is a great season here in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. I enjoy this time I get to spend in my home riding, attending celebrations and meeting with constituents.   

Even though MPs are not sitting in the House of Commons, there is still so much work to do. 

 I have noticed recently that many of my conversations with constituents have a common theme.  Residents are concerned.  They are concerned that there isn’t enough being done to stimulate the economy and support small businesses.  They are concerned that the climbing deficit is going to be a burden for generations to come.  

Conservatives, under the leadership of Erin O’Toole, have a plan to address those concerns and many more.  

We have a plan to secure jobs by taking immediate action to assist the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.  

We have a plan to help those, including women and young Canadians, who have suffered most from the economic impacts of COVID-19 over the past several months. 

We have a plan to increase transparency – to end cover-ups and scandals in government.

We have a plan to create incentives for employers to provide mental health coverage to employees and to boost funding to the provinces for mental health programs.

We have a plan to get the economy growing again after years of slow growth under the current Liberal government, so we have the money we need to pay for government services that Canadians rely on. 

Conservatives will fight climate change and protect the environment, and we won’t do it on the backs of hardworking Canadians or by hurting our economy.

We have a plan to secure our environment, secure jobs and secure our future.  

I am looking forward to getting back to Ottawa and working with my Conservative colleagues to represent you, your family and your neighbors here at home. 

I hope you enjoy the summer in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.