Northern Bruce Peninsula’s newly elected Council held its inaugural meeting on Dec 3, with nearly 40 people in the public gallery. Municipal CAO Bill Jones acted as emcee, welcoming the Councillors to the task of “stickhandling through the next four years of municipal life.”
Municipal Clerk Mary Lynn Standen administered the oath of office to all five Council members and signed them in. All five members of Council read brief statements, beginning with Deputy Mayor Debbie Myles and ending with the Mayor.
Mayor Milt McIver thanked both past and future Councillors and also the unsuccessful candidates — stressing the importance of their willingness to serve their community.
The Mayor listed the highlights of the past term of Council — renovating Lion’s Head Fire Hall, purchasing two new fire trucks, fixing Johnston Harbour Road, implementing paid parking in Tobermory, implementing full curbside waste management, improving visitor services with waste and recycling facilities plus porta-potties and a budget for permanent washrooms, creation of a dog park, a skate park and community gardens at the Meeting Place in Tobermory, improvements to both ball parks and the upgrading of Lion’s Head harbour plus the paving of 4km of Dyers Bay Road. He alluded to the challenges ahead: finishing the process of upgrading Isthmus Bay Road, exploring the meaning of sustainable tourism, including devising a policy to deal with short-term rentals, devising a policy on septic inspections or reinspections, considering whether or not to embrace some form of accommodation tax and whether or not to upgrade our water and sewer facilities. All this must be done, he continued, while supporting our schools and our health care system, improving broadband availability, lobbying for improved safety on Highway 6 and finding a way to update our Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw and local Official Plans.
He suggested Council begin its mandate with a planning meeting to establish priorities.
After a break to take an unofficial portrait (see photo, page 1), the new Council got down to the meeting’s Agenda.
Item 2 on that Agenda was legal “Notice of Application for Absolute Title” to a property locally known as Bass Road Beach (Lots 22 and 23, McIvor Drive in the former Lindsay Twp). Mayor McIver and Deputy Mayor Myles both vacated their chairs due to potential conflict of interest. Mayor McIver’s father formerly owned the property in question and created the subdivision; Deputy Mayor Myles lives in that subdivision and has researched the history and title of Bass Road Beach. She believes that the beach below the original survey pins is a public beach and that the adjacent landowners have no more right to it than the back lot owners.
This left the three new Councillors to their own devices, on an issue that was new to all of them. They quickly chose Smokey Golden to chair the meeting in the absence of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
CAO Jones explained the issue quickly and the three Councillors elected to ask Staff to request legal advice. CAO Jones pointed out that this would not happen until next year. (The letter from the proponents’ lawyer suggests that any objections should be filed by Dec 17, 2018.)
Other deadlines were equally pressing. A particularly attractive provincial government grant program (Tourism Development Fund) has an application deadline before Christmas. Council reluctantly decided not to apply. Other programs offer a slightly better time horizon and will be considered.
Under “Other Business”, Councillor Golden suggested the reinstatement of “Committee of the Whole” meetings. (These are Council meetings without defined Agendas, at which issues can be discussed at length without the formal Staff Report/Motion/Discussion/All in Favour protocol. Councillor Golden suggested COW meetings be held on the 3rd Monday of the month as a trial (Regular Council Meetings are the 2nd and 4th Mondays). Mayor McIver pointed out that he had suggested a planning/priorities meeting. Councillor Megan Myles suggested that could be the first COW meeting. Tentative dates were discussed.