Central Elgin council excerpts: Port Stanley outdoor rink, weather permitting

·6 min read

Central Elgin councillors discussed and/or decided the following at their meeting on Monday, Dec. 13:

Garage variance

Councillors, sitting as committee of adjustment, approved a minor zoning variance allowing Greg Hussey to add a garage with a second-storey apartment to his property at 236 West St. in Belmont.

Emily Ceh, on behalf of Mr. Hussey, said the zoning on the property didn’t allow an accessory building to be more than four metres tall, not enough to have an upper residential unit.

She asked for 7.71 metres instead. No one questioned or objected to the variance, and it was granted.

Liquor licence

Councillors had no objection to a liquor licence sought by Elgin Harvest from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for a planned new restaurant at 400 Sunset Drive.

The property is the former headquarters of the Elgin County Board of Education.

Mayor Sally Martyn said, “I’m glad to see a new use of the building. We’ll encourage them any way we can.”

Outdoor rink

Councillors okayed a proposal by the Port Stanley Firefighters Association to install an outdoor ice rink for public use at Selbourne Park in Port Stanley.

Ryan Cummings, on behalf of the association, wrote it would operate from December through February, weather permitting.

The rink would be removed when the season ended. “The outdoor rink last year was well-received and used by many.”

He hoped the availability of a rink would keep skaters off Kettle Creek and Lake Erie.

Councillors agreed to have the municipality cover the cost of insurance for the rink.

“I just hope they get enough cold weather to warrant having an ice rink,” Mayor Martyn observed. “I’m sure the kids would love it.”

Heritage logo

Councillors approved a new logo design proposed by Heritage Central Elgin, featuring its name around a drawing of the Dan Patterson cabin at Dalewood Conservation Area.

Deputy Mayor Tom Marks said, “I can remember when Dan actually lived there.”

He added he and his father would pass the cabin every Sunday on their way to church.

Mayor Martyn said the cabin was one of the oldest styles of structures in Central Elgin.

New subdivision plan

Councillors accepted for information an application for a draft plan of subdivision for vacant land just west of the intersection of Carlow Road and Warren St. in Port Stanley.

Strathroy Turf Farms was proposing a development with 79 lots for single detached houses and nine semidetached blocks for 18 units. A more detailed report on the proposal would be brought to a future council meeting.

Central Elgin Administrator Paul Shipway said he couldn’t speak for every municipality, but he was confidence Central Elgin maintained all roads, both its and the county’s, to the minimum maintenance standards set by the province.

Polar Bear Dip

Councillors approved a request from Childcan to hold a fundraising “Polar Bear Dip” on Port Stanley’s Little Beach on Saturday, March 5.

Several such fundraisers have been held there in the past. Participants collect pledges to take a brief, icy swim in Lake Erie.

“I think we should all do it,” Cr. Dennis Crevits proposed, to laughter. (He had done so himself in the past.)

“It’s a great cause,” Mayor Martyn said, “But I’d rather just donate to them than do the dip.”

Insurance price

Councillors went with a staff recommendation to award Central Elgin’s insurance coverage for the next year to Intact Public Entities of Cambridge for $384,641.

Councillors also approved an option to add $30,000 in “cyber insurance” on top of that.

Procurement and Risk Management Coordinator Aaron Dooling, in a report to council, said three proposals were received after Central Elgin issued a request for insurance for potentially the next 10 years, based on annual renewals. The prices for the other proposals were not released.

Cr. Bill Fehr said he thought Elgin County had been paying for Central Elgin’s cyber-insurance.

Mr. Shipway said the county provided information technology expertise and support to Central Elgin and managed its cyber infrastructure, but not insurance.

It would cover the municipality in case of a security breach that resulted in the theft of private information about individuals.

Building permits

The total estimated construction value of building permits issued by Central Elgin continues to soar over last year.

In all of 2020, the municipality issued $64,827,979 in permits, including 143 for new homes.

Up to the end of November of this year, Central Elgin had issued $94,711,697 in permits, including 164 new homes.

In November, $5,567,000 in permits had been issued, including 10 for new homes.

County roads

Mr. Shipway said Elgin, unlike any other county in Ontario, had local municipalities maintain county roads within their boundaries in return for funding each year.

Municipalities had concerns that the county might not be fully funding all the work that was done, and that was reviewed in a recent consultant’s study, as was finding more effective ways to jointly procure and deliver services, “to ensure everyone is getting their fair shake on this,” he stated.

While the study didn’t find a need to increase funding at this time, it did recommend taking steps to ensure the municipalities were using the same methods to track the work they did and costs in future.

The study, he noted, had been done at the county’s initiative.

Deputy Mayor Marks said that fact spoke well of the county. The cooperation now between the county and local municipalities “is higher maybe than it used to be.”

In a couple of years, when common cost-tracking systems have been put into place, funding for each municipality might rise.

“Probably this should have been done 10 or 15 years ago.”

Councillor Colleen Row asked if the county had any concerns that roads were not being maintained as well as they should.

Accessibility recruiting

Deputy Mayor Marks said the joint Central Elgin-Elgin County accessibility advisory committee was “struggling with having a quorum” at its meeting, and would be looking for new members.

Mayor Martyn said she’d been Central Elgin’s representative to that group during the previous term of county.

“It really opens your eyes to many things,” she said. Many members were disabled or caregivers to the disabled.

Committee members who were disabled or caregivers were paid for sitting on the committee, “because they give us some much better insight into what we need.”

Physical barriers weren’t the only roadblocks to access, she said. Sight and hearing could also be an issue.

Rob Perry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express

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