Council notes: residents call for green space near J.J. O’Neil not be deemed surplus, no STA by-law set, council wages

Adam Prudhomme

Residents of Marilyn Avenue and Simcoe Street are urging Greater Napanee council to reconsider declaring green space adjacent to J.J. O’Neil Catholic Elementary as surplus land.

Chris Dibb spoke to council during their Aug. 9 meeting on behalf of some 66 people who signed a petition calling for the green space to be left alone. They’re hoping to convince the town not to sell the property to J.J. O’Neil, who has expressed interest in turning the land into a parking lot as part of their $9.9 million renovation. Announced in February, the provincial investment into the school will include creating 331 elementary student spaces, 49 licensed childcare spaces and three new childcare rooms.

Residents who live near the green space, which currently houses a baseball diamond and at one time was a town park, are hoping the town can preserve the land for public use.

“My kids were raised here and still use this park and now my grandchildren use this green space whenever they visit,” said Dibb. “People to this day say I have the best backyard in town. There is always a breeze, I can open up the back gate and my grandchildren have a safe place to play. As a matter of fact, many of the homes have gates that allow entry to our park.”

Dibb noted the green space has been there since she first arrived in Napanee in 1968 and has been enjoyed by four generations of her family.

“The demand for parking is going to be a priority but our park is not the place for their parking lot nor is it the right spot to help with the traffic congestion,” she said. “This green space is a big part of our lives and it would be a shame not to have access to it anymore.”

Council agreed to note and receive Dibb’s deputation and will call on staff to put together a report for their Sept. 13 meeting.

-Discussions on a town by-law to regulate short-term accommodations (STA) didn’t gain any traction.

As a result mayor Marg Isbester suggested councillors volunteer to form a committee to try and gather more information and put together a by-law that works. Town staff has closely monitored neighbouring communities and made note of what works and just as importantly, what didn’t work. Those findings indicate licensing fees can are often ignored and property owners are challenging many by-laws limiting the number of STAs in a particular area.

“This might not even happen during this term,” said Isbester of the town enacting a by-law to regulate STAs. “But we’ve got lots of information, we’ve got staff that are quite happy to try and accommodate what we can, they’ve brought everything in that we’ve asked them. But nothing really fits the bill for everybody.”

Deputy mayor Max Kaiser and councillor John McCormack volunteered for the committee.

-Council endorsed the Loyalist Parkway Association’s request for the Ministry of Transportation to review the Glenora ferry service. Council supported a letter, written by councillor McCormack as chair of the Loyalist Association Parkway, be sent to Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Ric Bresee.

“In the past 10 years or so, the ferry service has consistently declined,” reads McCormack’s letter. “Constant poor scheduling by the staff at the MTO for repairs and refueling, not to mention, not taking into account higher volumes of traffic being diverted to the ferries due to other road closures and not adjusting accordingly. It’s now July 2022 and apparently for the rest of the year they will be running only one ferry. Many messages have been left with the manager of the Glenora ferry office without the courtesy of a reply.”

-The next term of council could be getting a bump in pay that would bring their salary more in line with that of neighbouring communities.

Following a confidential compensation report, the majority of council voted to bring a by-law forward that would see the salaries of elected officials adjusted annually by the same economic adjustment applied to the non-union wage schedule, currently set at 2.25 per cent for 2023.

Per a report presented to council, compiled in part with an external compensation consultant Mariann Love Consulting, Greater Napanee’s mayor currently earns $31,650 per year, which is 30 per cent below the market rate. Deputy mayor earns $20,493 which is 29 per cent below market rate and councillor $18,619, which is 22 per cent below market rate.The report looked at 10 local municipalities: Port Hope, Quinte West, Cobourg, PEC, Brighton, South Frontenac, Trent Hills, Selwyn, Loyalist and Lennox and Addington.

The report, presented by Greater Napanee director of human resources Michael Fisher, recommends the pay be increased to $45,413 for mayor, $28,938 for deputy mayor and $23,816 for councillor.

In a recorded vote both Terry Richardson and Dave Pinnell Jr. voted against a motion that would see council direct staff to bring a by-law to the Sept. 13 meeting to formally adapt a revised wage schedule. The motion was carried by a vote of 5-2.

-Morningstar Mission was granted permission for a temporary road closure of Water Street between Baker and Water Street for Sept. 17 for an outdoor celebration to mark their 15th anniversary.

-Greater Napanee will formally recognize Oct. 18 as Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Appreciation Day. The town will also proclaim Sept. 19 to 25 to be Rail Safety Week.

-Following two months of a summer schedule, council will return to its regular pace of two meetings per month, as oppose to the single meetings held in July and August. September will see council meeting Sept. 13 and Sept. 27. After that only the Oct. 11 meeting will remain prior to the municipal election, set for Oct. 24.

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