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Tax Increase Protest Well Attended Despite Blowing Snow

By Linda Belcourt, Editor

Jan. 13, 2024 – In the heart of Township of Tiny, a peaceful and picturesque township nestled in farmland and rimmed with beaches has experienced a protest as taxes rates are going higher. No one want higher taxes!

The township had always relied on these taxes to fund essential services, but will the sudden spike leave many residents struggling to make ends meet.

On Jan. 10, 2024 at 4:30pm the approximately 75-100 residents gathered in the high winds with snow blowing in the faces of passionate protesters at the Township of Tiny administrative building. Holding handmade signs that read “There’s no such thing as government funded. It’s all taxpayer funded”,” Listen to the People” and “Our voices matter! Nos Voix Comptent!!”, they voiced their concerns and frustrations.

Janet Marks was called upon for her input and she exclaimed, “It is all in the budget that the taxes will go up to fund a new building. After Covid we feel we don’t need a brand new building.”

Mayor David Evans explains the reason for a new building, “The township has been operating out of the current facility since 1967. Since then, several additions and renovations have been made, including the addition of three portables to accommodate staff. We have also had to relocate some staff to off-site facilities which impacts efficiency. We are currently beyond capacity. As the population has grown, so too have our number of employees in order to meet the servicing levels of our community. The current facility and portables need many repairs and replacements due to age and this ultimately limits the ability to operate an efficient facility in terms of workflow, staff levels, operational costs, and to be environmentally responsible. No cost estimates have been established at this point as the township is in the early, high-level planning stages of the new administrative building project.” Karen Zulynik, a passionate local, stood at the center of the protest. With a strong voice, she addressed the press and the Mayor. “It would be a good time for a new building when the inflation is down and the economy stabilizes,” she declared. “We don’t even know what the cost of a new building is.”

Mayor David Evans want residents to know:

  • The costs of maintaining and repairing the current facility are high, and the current structure does not provide a barrier free workplace to our staff. While we have a responsibility as a township to be accessible under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, it is also the right thing to do to ensure everyone feels valued and that they belong here. The portables do not have ramps to allow those with mobility devices to enter the workspaces. Part of the desire for the new building is to ensure that the space is accessible and inclusive for everyone, both the public and staff.
  • By constructing a new building, we will see long term savings. We will be able to cut the cost of repairs, see a net zero building, and reduce operating costs by amalgamating several offices into one. The implications of not building the new facility now will only continue to grow. Construction costs will continue to increase as time goes on, and we could lose out on accessing Federal funding for designing the building to be net zero.
  • If we choose to defer decisions or not go ahead with constructing a new municipal building, we are going to impact future generations and their ability to make meaningful change in our community. The responsibility for the infrastructure deficit cannot all be placed on the younger generations – we need to work together now to put in place the best infrastructure we can to ensure that Tiny is the best place to live, work, and play for many generations to come.

When asked about public consultation Karen replied, “…there is no community involvement.  When the former Deputy-Mayor Steffen Walma and former Mayor Cornell in 2016 directed staff by council motion to set up the needs assessment committee they delegated Council powers to staff. Since there were only 2 elected officials on the committee and many senior staff this was not a Council Committee but more like an internal committee that is CLOSED to the public and does not let anyone in. This is legal under the Municipal Act. What this Council can do to put this plan on hold is to revoke the previous motion, add one more councilor to the committee and it then becomes a Council Committee that must be OPEN to the public. Many residents that have said No to a new township hall through a petition.”

Over the past weeks, town meetings were held, and constructive dialogues and off topic discussions ensued between residents and officials. Mayor David Evans explains, “The first public engagement sessions were held on December 11, 2023, to provide an initial opportunity to residents to provide their input into the features they would like to see in the new building. More public engagement meetings will be held to ensure the public is involved throughout the process. Engagement opportunities will continue to be sent out via public notices, Tiny Connect, our social media channels, and will be listed on the dedicated webpage when announced: https://www.tiny.ca/township-hall/new-building. Tiny has also set up a dedicated email address to provide residents with an opportunity to provide any feedback on this project at any time: newtownhall@tiny.ca. The emails will be logged for consideration and review by the Committee.”

Mayor Evans expressed, “…that a new building is in the best interest of our community to ensure that future generations are not further impacted by the township’s infrastructure deficit. In line with the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, the priorities of Fiscal Planning and Infrastructure Revitalization come into play. The municipal office is a key asset in order for the township to provide the quality customer service that our residents deserve. By bringing staff together, we could implement a one-stop-shop model that would be more user-friendly for residents.

Protest organizer Karen Zulynik expresses her view by stating, “In 2020, 2021 and 2022 – we were overtaxed, and all monies went into the reserves.  They continue to use the reserves for other projects.  Not sure how much is in there. Current, line item is $400,000 for a design for a new administrative building for the 2024 budget – which is approx. 2%.  The cost of construction for a brand-new building is undetermined, with no plans for the old building. Tiny Township raised property taxes by 10.82% in 2023. They have passed another unprecedented increase of 8.19% for 2024 with additional expense coming forward in the next few months. There was no need to pass the budget quickly. There was truly little cutting and additional projects added.”

The peaceful and respectful protest had united the people, reminding all of us that our voice is our greatest asset. The Mayor was there to listen. This is democracy at it’s best. When it is time for public consultation and when should the experts decide? That is the real question. Let’s hope that through collaboration and determination, they can secure a brighter future for themselves and generations to come.

 

Township of Tiny Council Approves the 2024 Budget

Submitted by Jacqueline Brown, Communications Officer

Jan. 11, 2024 – The Township of Tiny Council approved the 2024 Budget at the Regular Meeting of Council on January 10, 2024.

“The 2024 Budget responds to a number of challenges that municipalities across the province are facing such as contract increases, rising costs of insurance, growth pressures, and balancing the needs of our community,” said Mayor David Evans. “The township recognizes that our taxpayers are also faced with the rising cost of inflation, which is why Council directed staff to find efficiencies to reach a five per cent blended tax rate that supports township programs, services, and infrastructure. The team here in Tiny responded with a budget that continues to offer great services and programs for our residents and addresses the township’s infrastructure deficit”.

The 2024 Budget has a blended tax rate increase of 5.03 per cent* (*pending final education rate increase announcement) or a municipal tax rate increase of 8.19 per cent (7.15 per cent Operating + 1.04 per cent Capital levy increase) which equates to an increase of $29.86 in the municipal portion of the tax bill for every $100,000 in residential assessment.

2024 Budget Highlights:

Funding for these items was approved in the 2024 Budget.

  • $2.8 million invested in paving and road preservation improvements including:

o 5 kilometres of asphalt, 4 kilometres of tar and chip, 6 kilometres of micro surfaces, and

o $120,000 invested in climate change projects related to drainage resilience.

  • $1.9 million investment in water system infrastructure improvements including:

o $900,000 for Lafaive System watermain replacement, and

o installation of residential water meters in Whip-Poor-Will and Cook’s Lake.

  • $1.6 million investment in beach and park amenities including:

o $1 million for construction of the Toanche Pavilion funded in part by the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Grant, which will include a covered natural ice surface, washrooms, and a community room,

o $130,000 for tennis court enhancement at Parkside Park in Balm Beach comprised of two dedicated pickleball courts, and replacing one of the tennis courts, and

o $84,000 for the replacement of the playground at Tee-Pee Park.

  • $800,000 for major fleet equipment including:

o purchasing a new loader, tandem plow truck, and ¾ ton plow/service truck.

  • Continued financial support for regional priorities including the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe, Severn Sound Environmental Association, Georgian Bay General Hospital Foundation, Family Physician Recruitment, Community Reach, Wheels for Wheels, Cultural Alliance, and Virtual Care Physicians.

Figure 1 – Allocation of Municipal Tax Dollars

Figure 1: The Township of Tiny 2024 Budget allocation of municipal tax dollars to the township’s various programs and services.

The Township of Tiny 2024 Budget supports the municipality’s strategic priorities, which include:

  • Sustainable Long Term Fiscal Management
  • Infrastructure Revitalization
  • Environment and Public Land Management
  • Organizational and Corporate Development

Council of the Township of Tiny remains committed to long-term financial sustainability and fiscal responsibility that supports the services, programs, and infrastructure in Tiny. For more information on the 2024 Budget, please visit www.tiny.ca/budget.

 

A Tiny Senior Moment

By Carol-Lynn Lepard, Township of Tiny, Senior Column Writer

In recent columns, we’ve talked about a few of the amazingly talented people who lead Township of Tiny’s recreational programs. Today, we’re offering information about three programs that are free of charge, to help you stay warm, keep active, and enjoy meeting other members of our community throughout the winter.

Would you like to learn a game of skill you can play all winter without hitting the ice while meeting new people and gliding into spring? If you’re looking for a change of pace and a place to make friends, it’s hard to beat Shuffleboard.

This game started in Britain in the 1500s, as a table game, like “push penny.”  It developed into a sport that is now enjoyed by thousands of enthusiasts all across North America. For a lot of Canadians, curling may sound more familiar. Shuffleboard plays much the same, sliding a disc that is shot into to a target area where you keep making points, but have to protect them because your disk can be knocked off by competitors – and you play it without the ice, or the player having to slide at all.

It can be as strategic as chess, but at the Township of Tiny’s shuffleboard program, which takes place every Friday, at 12:30 p.m. at the Wyebridge Community Centre, you’ll find that lots of people who will help new players get started, so skill doesn’t matter, you just come for the fun. No fee is charged, but you do have to register. Visit the website, www.tiny.ca, or call the Recreation Department at 705-526-4204 ext. 290.

Another program that can help you keep fit and healthy is led by the Victorian Order of Nurses. VON fitness instructors and specially trained volunteers offer group exercise classes called SMART (Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together) to adults at all levels of ability. As well as meeting new people in our community this program offers low-impact exercise and emphasizes working at your own pace to improve strength, mobility, and balance. To register, call the Georgian Bay SMART office, at 705-355-2200 or arrive at your first session a few minutes early, Thursday afternoons 1:00-3:00 p.m., at the Township of Tiny Community Centre (91 Concession Rd. 8 E).

If you’re looking for a creative outlet, but don’t have the space for a home studio, the Women’s Cooperative Arts Circle may be your ticket to the enjoyment and learning of new techniques in painting and various forms of crafting, as well as practicing your skills. The program provides studio space for you to work individually, using your own supplies. It also includes monthly show and share lessons and mini-lessons given by other participants. This unique group includes women whose interest in art and enthusiasm for learning new approaches has brought them together to share their experiences and expand their commitment to the community.  A recent addition is a changing art gallery, displayed in the Lafontaine Community Centre Hall (342 Lafontaine R. W.), where the 3.5-hour sessions are held Tuesdays starting at 10:00 a.m. For more information, visit the Township’s website, www.tiny.ca, or call the Recreation Department at 705-526-4204 ext. 290.

Programs, Activities & Events

Join in the fun at the Winter Carnaval d’Hiver, which will be held on Saturday, February 10th at Perkinsfield Park (43 County Road 6 South, Tiny). This is a day that offers something for just about everyone, from ice skating to live performances by talented artists, and much, much more. For more information, or to register for some events, visit the website, www.tiny.ca, or call the Recreation Department at 705-526-4204 ext. 290.

 

The paper is electronically available online on publishing date at our website. The paper is published every other Thursday. The deadline is the Monday before (3 days).