Drainage, farming, & gravel roads

·2 min read

SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX - Twp. Council met on Wednesday, 10 March 2021 at 7pm. First on the agenda was an engineers’ report on the Kelly Drain, located near Newbury. Land owners requested the zig-zagging ditch be closed to accommodate farming practices. Some discussion took place about the possibility of an invite-only tender process, and ultimately the work was approved by council.

Across the township in Ekfrid, the McFarlane Drain saw some work with one culvert newly installed. Council moved into Court of Revision to accept the assessments as laid out by the engineer.

Council supported a Norfolk County resolution asking for carbon-tax forgiveness for farmers. Councillor McGill, a farmer, spoke to some of the inconsistencies he has noticed with the carbon tax; chiefly, that farmers often cannot pass on costs to consumers, and that greenhouse operations benefit from some exemptions while farmers do not.

Still on the subject of farming, a NASM plan approval notice for McNally Farms caused momentary concern amongst councillors who thought the farm would be housing biosolids, like those being discussed in neighbouring townships. In fact, the fertilizer being used is recycled green bin material, leaves, and yard waste. The ministry notice specified an odour classification OC2, so those nearby may still notice when it goes onto the fields.

The renewal of staff benefits was approved by council. Like insurance rates, costs are up in the benefits industry. The increase in cost of $6,725 will come from the insurance reserve.

Council delegated authority to the Treasurer to undertake certain actions related to the cancellation, refund, reduction, or increase of taxes under the Municipal Act. The purpose is to improve efficiency when readjusting taxes partway through a given year; for example, in the instance of fire, demolitions, or additions.

Next on the agenda was gravel road maintenance. Typically the roads crew covers half the gravel roads in the township with maintenance gravel. Unexpectedly, gravel costs have skyrocketed almost a dollar per tonne in recent months, forcing the municipality to borrow $43,000 from their 2020 brine surplus to cover the costs. Finally, council agreed to reallocate $22,443 left over from the budget for Road and Sidewalk Condition Assessments to the existing SWM 2021 sidewalk budget. Public Works staff say that tenders for sidewalk work are being prepared, and will go out shortly.

McKinley Leonard-Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner