CORNWALL – Normally activity at SDG Counties is limited to budgets and roads. But 2021 has been anything but a slow year for SDG.
Counties started off with issues involving the multi-million dollar Morrisburg roundabout and street-scape project, which was tendered in early January and returned nearly $2 million over budget.
This prompted transportation department staff to scale back some of the finishing touches to the $4 million project. Ground finally broke on the project in June and all the major work was completed before the winter work shut down in December. Contractor Coco Paving will be back at work in the spring to finish landscaping and installing flag polls and other elements.
The Counties also commissioned its rural education report in the spring. SDG hired Monika Ferenczy from Horizon Educational Consulting to analyse the issues with rural education and come up with key recommendations for improvement.
The final report was received and adopted by SDG Counties Council in November, and there is an online rural education symposium planned for February 3, 2022.
Counties councillors had to deal with replacing the head of council in June following the arrest of Warden Frank Prevost and his subsequent leave of absence. Council elected Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) as the replacement warden to serve out the remainder of Prevost’s second term as the head of council. Armstrong is the only non-Glengarry warden elected this term.
The fallout of Prevost’s removal as warden was council needed to modernize its rules for its yearly warden election, and what to do if the warden is unavailable. Council opted to make the outgoing warden the deputy warden for the following year.
A move to eliminate breaking ties in warden elections by drawing names from a hat was deemed illegal by the Municipal Act. Instead, council acknowledged that the preference is that the current warden should not vote, but is not legally restricted from voting.
Driveways became a big issue for SDG Counties council following residents in St. Andrews West and a business in Morrisburg complaining about arbitrary driveway size reductions or elimination during work by the transportation department. SDG Counties council voted to reinstate some of the driveways including the one at a Morrisburg business.
Signs were another sticking point for SDG this year as it revised its roadside sign bylaw for the second time in two years to deal with issues around an LED digital sign along County Road 2 in South Dundas.
A revised Regional Incentives Program saw more money spent by SDG Counties to help local businesses expand or renovate. This included several projects in South Dundas and North Dundas.
With the glass ceiling broken 13 years ago, Councillor Carma Williams (North Glengarry) became only the second woman elected warden in the 171-year history of SDG.
Williams began her term, the last before the October 2022 municipal elections, with an inauguration on December 17.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader