The third round of talks between Canada, the US and Mexico concluded in Ottawa on September 27th, with the next round set to be held October 11-15 in Washington. I am not privy to what is being discussed in the negotiations, but most media reports indicate that negotiators are focusing on some of the smaller, less controversial issues in the early rounds, before tackling areas where there are expected to be strong disagreements – such as the rumoured US suggestion that NAFTA include an automatic ‘sunset clause’ that would cancel the agreement after five years unless all three countries agree to extend it.
While it does not stem from the NAFTA talks, we did recently get an alarming reminder of how focused the US is on trade with the Commerce Department’s ruling on Bombardier. Boeing, one of Bombardier’s competitors, had applied to the Commerce Department to apply an 80% countervailing duty on planes sold into the US – the largest market in the world for aircraft – because they claimed Bombardier was unfairly subsidized by governments in Canada. In its ruling, Commerce applied a 219% countervailing duty on Bombardier planes entering the US, which effectively closes that market to Bombardier.
The ruling is being appealed, but it nonetheless serves to underline the stakes involved in the NAFTA negotiations. Shortly after the ruling was announced, another competitor of Bombardier, Brazilian company Embraer SA, announced that it had referred Bombardier to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a complaint alleging that Bombardier received unfair government subsidies totaling over $3 billion (USD) that give them an advantage over their competitors.
There are four more rounds of talks planned, starting with the round in Washington, and negotiators hope to reach an agreement by the end of 2017, or February 2018. Mexico has a general election slated for July 2018, and the US has midterm elections in November 2018, which may delay the resumption of talks should an agreement not be concluded by February 2018.
I will keep you apprised of developments as these negotiations continue.
Deputy Don’s Update - by Don Allen
What fantastic weather we have been having for the fall fairs. Last weekend, Midhurst Autumnfest was a great success due to many volunteers working hard and great turnout for this fun event. The Elmvale Fall Fair this weekend will be much fun, as always.
Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC)
OPF Preliminary Business Case – Presented at County Council last week, this report, undertaken by Ernst & Young consultants (EY), assesses the business and operational impacts, risks and cost/benefit of 5 various options for a County-owned Organics Processing Facility, proposed to locate at 2976 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Springwater. The options include “status quo” (continued export to AIM in Hamilton) and three technology options and as well, export to other facilities owned and operated by a merchant partner. Of these options, EY and County staff recommend development of a County-owned organics processing facility utilizing dry anaerobic digestion (AD) with in-vessel composting technology. This option has the lowest 20-year nominal capital and net operating cost estimates of all five options, of a total of $79.4 million, with a Net Present Value (NPV) in today’s dollars of $54.6 million. This compares to the original estimate for the OPF in 2015 of $25 million, for several reasons cited. Other options presented in the EY business case range from nominal capital and net operating costs over 20 years of $84 million to $114 million for the OPF alone.
The report noted that while the status quo option to transport waste is convenient in the short-term, it is expected that increasing pressure on municipalities in the form of waste-related regulations and legislation (such as the Waste Free Ontario Act, WFOA) could lead to market capacity and availability of location issues.
EY noted that, moving forward to the next Request for Prequalification and Proposal stages, the County would benefit from a “technology neutral” procurement process for the OPF that would allow proponents greater flexibility in the development of a solution to meet the County’s organics processing needs. Although there appears some advantage to pursuing dry AD with in-vessel composting technologies, it is recommended that the procurement process not eliminate any technology option at this stage in project development. Before this occurs, planning approvals are required to be completed by Springwater Township. Springwater is awaiting County responses and reports following the comments and questions arising from the public meeting regarding this held on June 19, 2017.
MMF Updated Business Case – This Materials Management Facility business case, also presented at County Council last week, was prepared by County staff and its consultant, GHD Limited, for the same proposed location as the OPF.
The recent Waste-Free Ontario Act changes propose to transition responsibility for the blue box recycling program from municipalities to the Producers, resulting in no long-term capacity to manage transfer of this material after 2022. Three options were examined in the business case over an assumed 20-year period – continue contracting externally, develop the MMF with long-term capacity for garbage and develop the MMF with long term capacity for garbage and blue box capacity until 2023. The third and final of these options to manage the long-term transfer of garbage and blue box recycling until 2022 is recommended by Staff. The estimated capital and net operating cost over 20 years for this option is $21.7 million and this assumes receiving a $2.2 million Community Improvement Fund contribution to get to this cost. The estimated 20-year cost to continue contracting externally is $24.4 million assuming 2% annual increases in rates. This compares to the original estimate for the MMF in 2014 of $6 million with a payback estimate of 5 years. This has changed significantly due mainly to the blue box changes resulting from the WFOA changes. Now the payback periods of the second and third options above are assumed to be 36 and 33 years.
Therefore, the combined OPF and MMF presently recommended by Staff and consultants has a nominal capital and net operating cost over 20 years of $101.1 million. The net present value of this in today’s dollars is $72.7 million.
I believe that the options examined of continuing to contract externally for 20 years are wrong in the business cases. It might not be the right time now to consider investing this great sum of money to build an OPF and MMF facility, but to assume status quo for 20 years is unrealistic. I voiced at County Council my thoughts on this and recommended that the OPF and MMF ongoing project be put on pause until detailed research is completed with all possible service providers to see what the next contract terms can be negotiated after the current ones expire in 2020. With that information, we can intelligently decide whether to proceed with the development of an OPF and MMF facility now or whether to contract out for another 5 to 7-year term, with an extension option, structured to “freeze” gate fees for the contract term, lock in capacity and consider the impact of pet waste and diapers during that period and other standard contract features.
This might require a new site selection because of the many challenges faced with the selected site, such as no servicing, the sensitive receptor factors, natural habitat considerations, roads issues, water, and the significant fire risks for these facilities, especially in a forest, with the inherent risks to surrounding residents with limited exit options in case of fire in some cases.
By that time there will be more advancement in the technology options and experience with them in Canada (including dealing with pet waste and diapers), the Simcoe diversion rates will be higher, and the implications and roll out of the Growth Plan 2017 and the Waste Free Ontario Act will be clearer, as will the regulations surrounding the Climate Change Action Plan, producer responsibility and dealing with after products such as biogas.
After raising this at Council, I was informed that this detail will form part of the final business case being prepared some time in 2018. I believe this exercise should be completed now.
These are my thoughts and interpretations of these topics and not necessarily those of Council.
Ward Five Repot
A lot of positive things happened during the past month in Springwater. Some notable items include; Two local athletes, Jordan and Sarah McDonald who will represent Canada at the world dance completions in Germany, receiving some financial support. Some of the funds generated by the 2014 Township golf tournament were used to create a grant that was established to acknowledge the local athletes that competed in the Sochi Olympics. The grant is intended to support young Springwater athletes competing at an international level.
AUTUMNFEST FALL FAIR: It is Saturday night and we just got home from this absolutely fabulous community event. I know Lori will be generating her detailed thank you list. I need to acknowledge the main organizers, Lori Hanna, Roy Monk and Nadia De Amicis for their dedication and hard work. There are too many volunteers for me to list everyone. Without the involvement of venders, emergency services, Twp staff, some members of Council, this event could not happen. Special thanks to Lori Hodgson and her army of students, many who were not even residents of Springwater. There were some curious young minds, especially about the mega development, the environmental impacts, how the development got approved, who supported it and why. Always nice to see Alex Nuttall, Patrick Brown and Jim Wilson take the time to support local events. All proceeds will go toward the Midhurst community’s financial commitment for the new pavilion.
PAVILION & SPORTS PAD: Final approval and ground breaking has occurred for a pavilion and sports pad in Midhurst. Congratulations and thanks to the volunteers, Council, staff and supporters who made this happen. Volunteers are continuing to work hard to fundraise for the community’s portion of the cost. Want to help?
POLICING COMMITTEE: Robert Sporring, the hardworking volunteer and chair of Springwater Policing Committee for many years, was presented with the John Graves Medial of Excellence Award on behalf of Alex Nuttall, Member of Parliament for Barrie, Springwater and Oro-Medonte. The committee voted to continue meeting until yearend in hopes of recruiting more volunteers. If you have concerns about policing get involved.
FIRE SERVICE: Our fire service applied for a needed replacement rescue vehicle that is primarily used to transport personnel. Estimated cost was $450,000. Because this vehicle would have limited firefighting value a motion was supported by Council to spend additional funds and purchase a pumper rescue truck that can do both. The Fire Chief was successful in locating a new demonstrator fire pumper for $513,000. Well done!
WATER & WASTEWATER RATES: The Township hosted a public open house on Sept 27th. The consultants conveyed their findings, including costs for Township to provide and maintain the service and, options for lower billing rates. The public advanced their concerns, especially the cost of lawn watering. Staff will provide a report to Council based on the information, the questions that were asked and any direction given.
DEVELOPMENT CHARGES: Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., have been awarded the contract for consulting services for the Township’s Development Charges Background Study.
OBSERVATION: I was asked “why we are now hearing and seeing more from some has-beens? Is it the full moon, Halloween or the approaching elections?” You decide. While I may not agree with some of the recent communications, I do support everyone’s right to express them. However, voters need to do their homework and make intelligent decisions. Failure to learn from mistakes in the past and you are doomed to repeat them.
IMPORTANT DATES: Regular Council Meetings: Wednesdays, Oct 4 and 18th at 6:30 pm. There are several other special and closed session meetings. For other committee meeting times and dates go to: www.springwater.ca Meetings are held at the Township Administration Centre. You can view the live broadcast feed of Council meetings at http://www.springwater.ca/live ..
Jack Hanna Ward 5 Councillor
The Mayor’s Views
Water and Wastewater Rates-Council Information Session - n September 27th the Township hosted a Council Information Session to receive a report from Hemson Consulting that undertook a review our water and wastewater rate structures. As mentioned before, with multiple water and wastewater systems serving our settlement areas, we do not enjoy the economies of scale that a major high density urban centre would experience resulting in higher servicing costs for these services in Springwater. The meeting discussed ways of possibly smoothing the costs for high water users especially those with large properties and automatic sprinkler systems. A number of options were presented and a recommended option of changing the sewer rate to a single tier system was suggested. Some residents on municipal systems suggested that all residents of Springwater should share the cost of water even those not connected to municipal services. I must remind everyone that it is a user pay benefit and being subsidized by non-users would not be fair as rural residents pay all costs for their private wells and septic sewer systems. There was also a comment that water used for fire services is a burden for them. On checking, aside from such a small percentage of total municipal water used, all unallocated water consumption is absorbed by the Township and ultimately paid by every taxpayer. The recommended proposal does relieve some of the costs of the high water users and a full report will be brought to Council in late October for discussion and further debate. Council appreciates the input of the residents.
County Planning Impacts on Springwater-Update - In my last article I mentioned that at our September County Council meeting in a Planning Report from Township staff, that the Province requires the County to do a comprehensive municipal review, which means undertaking about 11 different studies. The County in the Report commented that they may not be able to approve local Official Plan Amendments (OPA’s) or Revised Official Plans until their review is complete. Since then there has been a meeting with Springwater and other local municipality planning officials, the County Planning department and Provincial Planning officials. We now understand that, except for those requesting more population or the expansion of settlement area boundaries, OP’s that meet the existing County OP and do not conflict with new provincial policies, may proceed. That is good news. With that in mind Springwater is proceeding with our Official Plan Review since the Springwater Official Plan dates back to 1998.
Town Hall-Anten Mills - We had another great Town Hall meeting in Anten Mills at the Community Centre. It was well attended. We invited residents from the surrounding area including Minesing, Phelpston, Fergusonvale, Snow Valley and Apto. Public Works updated the community on some capital projects that are occurring in the area and some new initiatives. Our Planning department provided information on some residential development that will be happening in the future in Anten Mills and provided some approximate timelines about when they will occur. Our Library provided an update on a number of activities and events being sponsored at the local libraries. We spent over an hour responding to questions on traffic safety, local recreation needs, development in the Township and fielded a number of questions on the ERRC planned for Horseshoe Valley Road West. I thank Deputy Mayor Allen and Ward Councillor Coughlin and Councillor Austin from Elmvale for attending. These Town Halls have proven to be an effective way for us as Council to engage the public on matters that affect them directly. Thank you to those that came out.
Midhurst-Autunmfest = The Midhurst Autumnfest was held last weekend at the Lions Park on Doran Road in Midhurst. It was blessed with sunny, warm weather and fun was had by all. There was a BBQ, games and fun for the kids, a variety of exhibitors and something for all the family. David Strachan’s miniature steam powered locomotive was a real treat providing rides to children of all ages around the grounds. The event this year hosted a beer tent and live music. I do want to thank the Melodiers, a local ensemble that plays music from the 20’s to 70’s for entertaining. In addition to me, the drummer for the group, two other members are also Springwater residents and were pleased to perform. We also need to thank our resident folk solo artist Councillor Katy Austin for also performing. Proceeds from this event will go towards the community share of funding for the Midhurst Pavilion that was recently approved by Council. We staged a sod turning for the new pavilion last week and we look forward to the completion of the project in early 2018.
Fort Willow Accessible Trail Dedication - A number of people were on hand for the ribbon cutting of the new accessible trail entrance at Fort Willow allowing even more people to enjoy this historic site. Through the efforts of the NVCA, Friends of Fort Willow, the Township, and the Federal Government’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, improvements were made to the trail entrance, the stairs and benches were added along the way. Other features including interpretive signage and Tourism Simcoe provided funding to improve the information kiosk at the Fort. Well done everyone and thank you for the efforts.
ERRC Environmental Resource Recovery Centre Update - The County tabled an interim business case for establishment of an Environmental Resource Recovery Centre on Horseshoe Valley Road East of CR27. As expected the price continues to climb and is now approaching the $50 million mark for the capital costs for the two facilities on the site. I expect it to rise when it actually goes out for quotation. One operation is effectively a transfer station and the other an organics processing centre. Aside from the costs, I am concerned that we continue to move the project too quickly down the road even before we know the impacts of two pieces of Provincial Legislation. The one is the Waste Free Ontario Act which places the responsibility on the producers for waste such as packaging materials which might well take a lot of materials that generate revenue for the County system. The second piece of legislation is the revised Growth Plan that now offers protection from any development on certain lands identified as prime agriculture or natural heritage and I believe the site chosen by the County is now impacted by both. What frustrates me a little is that the senior management confirm there may be impacts on the original plan approved by Council because of the changes. I know Deputy Mayor Allen will comment on numbers but as a County Councillor there are many gaps and unanswered questions in the business plan which, as a person with an extensive business background, I would not endorse as presented. Barrie for example is not a partner and yet a significant waste generator and they are content to outsource, which in my view is a much better solution in the short term. I would hope that County Council would consider a 5 to 8 year outsource agreement with a third party to allow the fallout from both the WFOA and the Growth Plan policies that are yet to be finalized. I think it would be a better and more effective and responsible use of tax dollars.
Elmvale Fall Fair - This weekend hosts the 157th Elmvale Fall Fair and it is an event that should not be missed. It starts Thursday night but most activities are held this Friday and Saturday. The School Parade is on Friday with the main parade on Saturday. Check the Fair website for times and schedules of the many events. See you there. Stop by our booth in the arena and play our “Where would you spend Your Tax Dollars game”. Come out and meet your old friends along with saying hello to a few new ones. This is what makes rural Ontario so special and we need to protect these great traditions. As I said last time, invite those relatives up from the City to experience the fresh air and special natural amenities of the life we get to experience everyday in Springwater.
Mayors Open Visiting Hours = If you would like to meet with me on any matter you can always arrange an appointment or if in the neighbourhood of the Administrative Centre you can drop by any Thursday afternoons from 1 to 4:00 p.m. and no appointment is required. I invite you to bring your complaints, concerns or even appreciation for what is happening in Springwater. I have had numerous people come by and in some cases we have resolved some simple issues. If nothing else I promise that you will be heard. The door is open. If you can’t make it and want to keep up to date, you can listen to my thoughts on matters of interest on our local Kool FM or Rock 95 or go to their website as they have a feature with a monthly interview with me hosted by Dan Blakely.
Keep informed and involved with Springwater by checking out our website www.springwwater.ca and especially our calendar of meetings. Tune into our live streaming of the Council Meetings at www.springwater.ca/live . Stay close to the action and read this excellent local paper, the Springwater News, and check out our regular Springwater Link and Council Corner columns. Be part of the solution and have your say.
A reminder these articles are my thoughts and perspectives on issues and I am but one voice on Council. These opinions may not reflect the position of other Councillors.
Fair And Equitable For All
On the eve of his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau boldly stated that, “If Canadians are to trust their government, their government needs to trust Canadians.”
Fast forward almost two years, and the outlook is not quite as sunny. The Liberal government seems to be under the impression that hard-working, risk-taking and often indebted Canadian business owners are not to be trusted, because in fact, they are cheating our tax system, and using a loophole in the law to avoid higher tax brackets.
There is no doubt that having a conversation about tax fairness for all Canadians is important and the tax system should be fair and equitable for all. Yet even with tremendous political backlash and voiced concerns from farmers, doctors, and small business owners across our country, this government appears to be forging ahead with a plan that many professionals have come forward to say will cause serious damage to our economy and critical services.
I have hosted two Townhall sessions with members of our community in Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte to discuss what impacts these changes will have on their local businesses and families. The concerns were numerous and shared by all. People are worried, and people are feeling frustrated and confused. Opening or expanding a business is a risk that only an entrepreneur and their families shoulder together. These are the people who operate the businesses that are the life blood of our communities, creating jobs and stimulating our economy. They work each and every day to build up their businesses for many years, without safety nets for their income like Maternity/Parental Leave, Employment Insurance, Sick Leave, paid vacations, or opportunities for severance pay, to name a few. They sacrifice, they work hard, and at the end of the day, the risk is real that their business may not flourish as they had hoped. They may be forced to close, and they may lose everything they had worked so hard to establish.
We know that this Liberal government’s increases on small business tax rates, increased payroll taxes and a new carbon tax are already making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to maintain and grow their businesses. We need to consider that a one size fits all approach is not the answer to making our tax system fair and equitable for all. We don’t need policies that make Canadian businesses uncompetitive and drive away foreign investors, or discourage young Canadians from starting their own businesses. We need to focus on reducing the tax burden for small and medium sized business, reduce government red tape, allow our entrepreneurs to create jobs in our communities, and make the legislative changes that benefit all types of tax paying Canadians.
Despite Ontario’s massive surplus of electricity, the Wynne Liberals continue to sign expensive green energy contracts for power Ontario doesn’t need.
Just two weeks ago, we learned that the Liberals had signed 390 green energy feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts for 150 megawatts of power. These are the same contracts the Liberals preceded with the day after announcing their “Unfair Hydro Plan.”
It doesn’t seem like very long – 7 months ago to be precise – that Ontario’s Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault admitted that mistakes were made with Ontario’s green energy program, saying that Ontario’s renewable energy procurements “led to a number of sub-optimal outcomes.”
If the Wynne Liberals truly believe that Ontario’s green energy schemes were a mistake, why do they continue to sign even more contracts?
This is the reason that rates have skyrocketed in Ontario, and this is the reason that rates will continue to skyrocket under the Wynne Liberals.
Previously, the Liberal Government awarded massive green energy contracts to companies that had donated $1.3 million to the Ontario Liberal Party. The Auditor General revealed that Ontario ratepayers overpaid $9.2 billion for these very contracts.
In the past, I have asked Premier Kathleen Wynne why donor energy companies got rich while life got harder and more unaffordable for Ontario families. To this point, I’ve yet to receive a satisfactory answer.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers revealed that Ontario wasted $1 billion worth of surplus electricity in 2016 – energy which we sell to our competitors – like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – at a loss.
Any solution to address Ontario’s hydro crisis needs to start with our massive surplus energy generation. Unfortunately, the Wynne Liberals don’t seem serious about correcting the system that has benefitted their insider friends for so long. They are only interested in band-aid solutions they can boast about in taxpayer-funded vanity advertisements.
On the other hand, I have been very clear, if elected, an Ontario PC government would put an immediate freeze on the signing of future energy contracts.
Ontario families are working harder, paying more, and getting less. It’s time for energy policies that help families pay less and get ahead, not policies that benefit Liberal insiders.
It’s time to end the Wynne Liberals’ green energy shakedown.
Ward One Report
Councillor Katy Austin
At last week’s special public meeting, Council received a report from Hemson Consulting with recommendations for changes to water and wastewater rates in the near future. Provincial law requires that rates must be calculated to ensure the Township generates sufficient revenues to fund costs. The last study was done in 2013, with an understanding that it be reviewed within three to five years. Hemson and Township staff have examined a variety of rate structures. The intention is to update the structure to better reflect changing consumption patterns and demographic trends and to ensure fiscal stability and sustainability from a service delivery standpoint. The key recommendations from the report are:
All users are subject to the same rate structure.
Calculated rates continue to provide Township with sufficient revenue to fund costs.
There will be some interim relief to high volume residential users.
Most commercial users will see an increase on their bill as they begin to pay for water consumed beyond the 1st tier consumption level.
Typical household users will pay marginally more.
For the next two weeks, the consultant will review comments from the public and Council and prepare a final report. At our October 18th meeting, Council will make its decision on the adoption of the new rates.
I have heard a number of complaints about speeding and unsafe driving in Elmvale lately. Cars are frequently seen ignoring stop signs in the vicinity of all three schools: at the corners of Stone and Lent, Stone and Lawson, Lawson and John, Lawson and Robinson, Kerr and Ritchie, Kerr and Flos, and Simcoe and Houden. Drivers are asked to be more considerate and to drive as if their own families and friends were on these streets.
Hospice Huronia has just launched its official fund-raising campaign. Its goal is to build a five-bed residential hospice to serve residents who are unable to die at home and don’t wish to spend their final days or hours in the institutional setting of a hospital. A hospice provides a place where individuals can come and receive expert hospice care in a welcoming home-like environment offering comfort, care and compassion to them and their families. So far, Hospice Huronia has received from the Town of Penetanguishene a site for their building on Fuller Avenue and funding from the County of Simcoe, the Tiny Township Golf Tournament and the Victoria Harbour Lions Club as well as from some private donors. They are seeking further funds from the province, from other organizations and individuals and from surrounding municipalities. I will be making a motion at the October 18th Council meeting that Springwater gives them funding from our golf tournament. Hospice Huronia hopes be open by December, 2018.
I encourage everyone to visit the new Indoor Market at the Elmvale Community Hall on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting October 13th and going until December 15th. It is an extension of the successful outdoor farmers’ market that has been located for the past nine years in the parking lot of the Community Hall.