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Political Opinions

Township of Springwater Tax Hike Sits at 3.86 per cent as Council Continues Budget Deliberations – By Linda Belcourt and Dominika Zapolnik
Township of Springwater Council met again on January 20 to review and deliberate on the 2023 draft budget. After almost 8 hours of staff presentations, review and council deliberation, the township tax increase now sits at 3.86 per cent. Water and wastewater rates are also slated to increase 2 and 5 per cent respectively this year for residents using these services.

During deliberations some items were forwarded as presented by staff, some were adjusted, some declined, while others were added by councillors. The next budget meeting is on February 2 at 5 pm, where the items that are carried forward are reviewed and finalized for approval in the final budget.

In the opening statement at the January 20 meeting, Mayor Jennifer Coughlin thanked senior management and staff at the township for putting together “… a very progressive and sustainable budget.” Adding that she felt the program changes brought forward in the budget were in direct response to what residents have been asking for.

One of the items that was axed in the 2023 draft budget was a Community Engagement/Communications Officer position, with duties to engage community residents, strengthen partnerships and support the Springwater Farmers Market in Elmvale. Council voted 4-3 against this, with Deputy Mayor George Cabral, Councillors Danielle Alexander, Phil Fisher, and Anita Moore opposed.

In response to an email sent after the meeting, Ward 3 Councillor Brad Thompson, who voted in favour of this position, stated the did so because he saw it as an investment that would pay off in the future and that “… with proper support of the farmers market, it will grow into an attraction that will benefit locals and draw people to our community to support local business.”

An item pushed forward to the 2024 budget process is a possible renovation of the Elmvale branch of the Springwater Library, which includes accessibility changes to conform to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards. A motion by Coun. Fisher and seconded by Coun. Moore included an amendment to have a special meeting before the 2024 budget deliberations to review the Library Master Plan, which sets this renovation as a top priority. The motion allowed for needed maintenance at the Elmvale library branch to be included in the 2023 budget.

A motion to increase councillor discretionary budgets to $7,500 per councillor (for a total of $52,500 per year), funded through taxation, was brought forward by Deputy Mayor Cabral, seconded by Coun. Moore and carried by council for inclusion in the 2023 draft budget. This would give each ward councillor access to $7,500 per year, with any unused funds carried over for 12 months “for use within their respective ward for special purchases, services, events and other worthwhile causes which in their opinion would be meaningful, beneficial and worthwhile to their ward and residents.” The motion also seeks to create a similar discretionary fund for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for township-wide initiatives including partnering with ward councillors on a ward purchase, service, or event.

Additional program changes that were added include an additional 1 per cent for the Capital Infrastructure Reserve, pickleball court painting and a basketball net at Hillsdale Pavilion.

“The (budget) process was extended to ensure there is sufficient time for Council to diligently work through the budget requests and make informed decisions prior to finalization,” said Mayor Coughlin in a written statement provided by a township spokesperson. Adding that the next budget meeting is “when members of Council will have the opportunity to seek clarity from staff on any outstanding items and determine how to best achieve our mutual goal of producing a progressive, sensible and sustainable budget.”

Budget deliberations continue February 2 at 5 pm and can be viewed live at the Township Administration Centre located at 2231 Nursery Road in Minesing or online: www.springwater.ca/budget

 

Council Connects-ROMA Conference – Members of Council and staff attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in Toronto last week. This conference provides an opportunity to learn, network and delegate to Provincial officials on issues of importance to Township residents and businesses.

The Township of Springwater participated in two delegations to raise awareness, share resident concerns and explore possible solutions.

Ministry of the Solicitor General
In response to increasing concerns from residents regarding traffic-related issues, such as speeding and disobeying traffic signs; the Township met with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, where Deputy Mayor Cabral led a discussion on regulatory changes to authorize traffic wardens or municipal special constables.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
The Township met with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, to request a temporary moratorium on all new or expanded gravel mining applications pending a broad consultation process. The delegation, led by Councillor Moore, voiced concerns regarding the number of applications being submitted without a definitive determination on the need for additional supply.

Flos Agricultural AGM
Congratulations to the Flos Agricultural Society who gathered together on January 24, to hold their Annual General Meeting and celebrate the success of the 2022 Elmvale Fall Fair.

This special community event would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of a group of talented volunteers. A special thank you to outgoing President Doug Ritchie, who provided leadership and dedication throughout the past three years. Under his guidance, the Flos Agricultural Society was able to uphold community traditions while balancing the need for resident safety, throughout the pandemic.

The Flos Agricultural Society truly exemplifies what Springwater is all about, community spirit, traditions, and neighbours working together to get things done.

Council would like to congratulate the new Board of Directors: President, Brenda Munshaw; Past President, Doug Ritchie; 1st Vice President, Tanya King; 2nd Vice President, our very own Councillor, Matt Garwood; Secretary, Pat Leonard; and, Treasurer, Lori Townes. (refer to photo on page 3)

We look forward to celebrating the 161st Elmvale Fall Fair, which will take place on October 6 & 7, 2023.

Outdoor Rinks
We are grateful to our dedicated community volunteers who are working hard to build and maintain outdoor rinks throughout the Township this winter. Most locations are now open; however, they are weather dependent. Mother nature has not been kind to our rink volunteers this year, so if you see a rink that is closed, please remain off the ice to ensure it is able to be maintained for future use. For location information and to learn more, visit springwater.ca/OutdoorRinks.

 

Midland Town Council Approves 2023 Budget – On Thursday, January 26th, Town of Midland Council voted to approve the Town’s 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets after three full days of review with Town staff.

“In its first budget cycle of this term Council undertook a rigorous review of the proposed 2023 Budget,” said Town of Midland Mayor Bill Gordon. “This budget approval delivers a balanced approach between providing the necessary services to our community while keeping the tax rate as low as possible given the extraordinary economic challenges we face.”

The approved 2023 Budget will result in a 4.58% levy increase, or a 3.99% blended rate, and includes:

  • Estimated County and Education rates.
  • 1% increase in the sustainable capital levy.
  • 5% increase in Water Rate = $1.72 increase per month for a typical user.
  • 4% increase in Wastewater Rate = $1.56 increase per month for a typical user.

This blended rate equates to a $5.08 increase per month per $100,000 of property assessment to support municipal, County and school board services.

Highlights of the approved 2023 Budget include:

  • Upgrades to Little Lake Park, Tiffin Park, Pete Pettersen Park and the Waterfront Trail.
  • Launch of the Downtown and Attainable Housing Community Improvement Plan.
  • Community safety enhancements to Town buses including automatic radio announcements of bus stops and visual bus stop displays to assist passengers with visual or hearing challenges.
  • New pedestrian crossings at three main pedestrian intersections.
  • Increased levels of service in the areas of tourism, operations and by-law enforcement.
  • Free Transit and Harbour parking for Midland seniors.
  • NSSRC fees remain at 2022 rates.
  • Continued support to various community organizations and events.
  • Paid resident boat launch services and parking.

“We are pleased to arrive at a budget that allows us to maintain our commitment to the excellent customer service we provide,” said Acting CAO Andy Campbell. “This approved budget came in below the rate of inflation while providing increased service levels and infrastructure improvements for our residents and businesses.”

The amended Operating and Capital Budget summaries will be posted in the coming week to the Town’s website at Midland.ca/Budget.

 

A Message from Doug Shipley, Member of Parliament, Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte

I hope that you are all enjoying the new year and that 2023 will bring peace and prosperity to you and your loved ones.

As we make our way through a new year, we must continue to focus and work hard for what is important. On January 30th, the house resumed for the winter session of parliament, and I am pleased to be returning to Ottawa to represent you.

Many Canadians are worried about challenges that our country is facing. Affordability, housing, processing backlogs for government services, and Bill C-21 are among the concerns that are top of mind for residents of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.

As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to work hard to try to make life more affordable for your family. I will continue to advocate for our rural residents, many of whom are hunters and farmers, whose ability to protect their livestock and provide for their families will be impacted by Bill C-21, and the hunting rifle amendments that were introduced in late 2022.

As always, if you or your family have concerns with any federal matters, please contact me at 705-728-2596 or doug.shipley@parl.gc.ca.

Sincerely,

Doug Shipley, MP

Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte

 

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