St. Marys Town Council reviews UTRCA correspondence, PRC one-parent restrictions

·2 min read

By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There were two standout topics of discussion from last Tuesday's St. Marys Town Council meeting.

Council first discussed correspondence from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. The UTRCA is challenging new amendments to Ontario's Conservation Authorities Act, which the organization claims will cause "additional red tape, further delays for permit approvals, and increased costs, as well as several new municipal constraints regarding agreements with Conservation Authorities and control of Board appointments." The letter sent to St. Marys Town Council also requested the municipality's support in pushing back against these new regulations, as well as calling on Minister Phillips, Minister Yurek, and Minister Yakabuski to reconsider the changes.

However, the views expressed by the UTRCA were not shared widely by Council members, specifically, Mayor Al Strathdee and Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer. Several members asked questions about parts of the UTRCA's request for support, but overall, there wasn't a large outpouring of support for the UTRCA's position. Kittmer noted that many of the changes in the new Provincial legislation were changes that St. Marys had advocated for last year. Included in these changes was the ability for municipalities to opt-out of programs as they saw fit, as well as calling on conservation authorities to narrow the scope of their projects. Additionally, Kittmer said that municipalities have been operating under similar regulations that conservation authorities will come under, meaning they have experience dealing with what the UTRCA might have to deal with and, in some cases, regulations that the UTRCA suggests will slow things down will actually speed up certain processes. Mayor Strathdee also spoke on the matter, saying that he feels the changes will increase accountability on conservation authorities, something he felt was needed.

Also discussed later in the Council meeting was the one-parent guideline at the Pyramid Recreation Center for youth sports. Currently, only one parent is permitted to be inside the arena during their child's sporting event due to COVID-19 restrictions. Council did receive a letter from St. Marys Ringette, which called on Council to change this policy. However, Council was of the consensus that the one parent per child policy should remain in place while the Huron Perth Public Health coverage area remains at the Orange (Restrict) level of the Provincial reopening framework. They also agreed that, as it relates to ice rentals and gameplay at the PRC, organizations from outside of the HPPH coverage area should not be permitted inside the PRC while the region remains in the Orange reopening level.

Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent