North Perth council requests more info on returning to chambers, Learning Hub design request awarded

·4 min read

NORTH PERTH – June 6 was the first municipal council meeting in two weeks and had a packed agenda. Among the items discussed were the update on council’s return to chambers, the tender approval for the future skill and tech Learning Hub, the Lonely No More program update, the fire protection agreement with West Perth renewed, and the denying of the Monkton Homecoming tent permit fee.

Council requests more information on returning to chambers

Staff prepared a report on the approach to their weekly meetings, which suggested a few options to be put in place by June 20. The options were:

Remaining fully virtual with only the mayor and clerk attending in person;

resuming fully in-person with a reconfiguration of the layout;

a hybrid approach with councillors in person and staff/public remaining virtual;

and a fully-hybrid model giving councillors the option to come in.

All but the last option would incur no additional costs. The last would incur the cost of additional equipment needed to properly input this system and IT staff needed to support it each meeting. It would also not be ready in time for June 20.

Ultimately, due to a split decision and a few more options being presented by councillors, they deferred the decision and requested more information. Among the suggestions was Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen’s idea to use technology already available to cut costs for the fourth option. Staff expressed that this may be more expensive, due to the need for bandwidth investment. Coun. Julie Behrns suggested an inverted third option, with councillors staying at home and staff and the public returning to in person. After a contentious back-and-forth between councillors, they passed a motion to direct staff to investigate the options suggested by council and they deferred the decision to a later, unspecified date.

Learning Hub AV equipment tender awarded

On May 16, Mayor Todd Kasenberg and MPP Randy Pettapiece announced that North Perth would receive funding for a “regional Technology and Skills Learning Hub special project” from the provincial government. Now, North Perth is one step closer to seeing that project becoming a reality. North Perth launched a Request for Proposal for AV equipment in order to create a world-class learning centre, with virtual, hybrid, and in-person opportunities available. It was concluded that Matrix Video Communications Corp. out of London is the best choice, after the request window closed and they presented their proposal. Their proposal would set the municipality back by $287,503, which may increase, though they budgeted $325,000 for the AV component. Through the province, North Perth received $1,842,132 in grant funding for the project. Council approved the tender application and awarded them the contract.

Lonely No More program continues

Council voted to continue a partnership with Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) to assist in the LNM program. The project provides rural seniors with socialization in the form of phone-based peer support. The municipality first heard of this in December 2020 for a six-month pilot program, and has continued to partner with them, with the previous deal expiring on May 31 of this year. A membership fee is required, at approximately $45/hour. Council voted to continue the partnership.

Fire protection agreement with West Perth renewed

From 2016 to May of this year, the North Perth Fire Department has provided services to a portion of West Perth under a fire agreement struck between the municipalities. Council voted to renew that agreement for another seven years, with the option of renewing after that period is over. According to the report prepared by Fire Chief Janny Pape, in that seven-year agreement the North Perth Fire department has responded to 37 emergencies. West Perth pays a fixed fee to North Perth on an annual basis, which increases year to year.

Tent permit fee waive request for Monkton Homecoming denied

On April 11, council received a request to waive the tent permit fee for Monkton’s 165th Homecoming celebration. As noted in their request, the event is a “no charge event paid for by fundraising and donations and any reductions in costs is a great help.” At that meeting, council directed staff to investigate if the tent permit fee has ever been waived. On June 6, CBO Ed Podniewicz reported that he cannot recall a similar proposal made. Due to the “dangerous precedent,” council voted to deny the request to waive the fee; however, in Podniewicz’s report, he noted that the tent permit fee of $110 is only required for tents 646-square feet in area. He has often recommended using a series of smaller tents over the area rather than one big one to avoid the cost. The fee is meant to recover costs from the work behind inspecting the permits.

Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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