Stone Mills looks to add registered planner to staff

Adam Bramburger
Beaver Staff

Officials with Stone Mills Township are hoping to seize an opportunity to find efficiencies, while improving the range of service it provides to ratepayers.

Chief administrative officer Bryan Brooks told council Monday that in discussions about replacing deputy clerk/planning administrator Roger Hogan — who recently left the municipality — staff discussed with Reeve Eric Smith and Deputy Reeve John Wise the potential to recruit an in-house registered planner to fill the position.

“The opportunity presented itself to look at a manager of planning who is a registered planner,” he said. “Council directed me to pursue that alternative, but to do that, we needed to update the job description and get it adopted by council.”

In discussing the change, Brooks referenced a one-time funding envelope the provincial government offered the township to modernize its operations to limit costs in the future — a directive some municipal officials fear may signal cuts to transfer funds from Queen’s Park.

In keeping with that theme, Brooks said the panel looking into the hiring noted that last year ratepayers paid about $80,000 to a registered planning consultant, the IBI Group. On top of that, there was an allocation of $70,000 to fund the position.

“The opportunity to have an in-house planner for the benefit of individuals making application to the municipality and seeking direction from township-based staff as opposed to a planning consultant was seen as a benefit to our ratepayers as well as staff while realizing some considerable cost savings that will reduce costs to applicants in the township in the upcoming years,’ Brooks said.

He told council the municipality still does have its contract with the IBI Group, but that agreement is on an as-needed basis. The agreement could be terminated with 60 days notice.

Brooks said if the situation unfolds as expected, the township could have its new hire work with the IBI Group to become familiar with past and current planning applications before taking on the file.

Once in place, the new hire would assist council in determining ways to improve its process for filing planning applications and give some guidance on what fees the township might collect and how it can offer residents a chance to save money on their applications.

Councillors unanimously gave the go-ahead for the new job description to be used in the hiring process.

In other news…

– Council received the results of a sound test conducted at the Hyperborea site on Doyle Road April 7, which would be used to configure the equipment for the arts festival on the May long weekend.

Based on a test that measured 80-decibel levels  10 metres from the sound system with no subwoofer and speakers pointed down, organizers were confident neighbours would not hear any noise impacts.

– Council accepted a recommendation from public works manager Jeff Thompson to retain the current landfill hours of Wednesday from 12-4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a..m. to 4 p.m. all year long.

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