1/2/13

Looking Ahead in 2013

Updated March 20

Being this is the start of a New Year, it is a good time to examine Town Council events that may be of interest.

Meetings
Beginning with our first 2013 Council meeting, we embark on a new schedule. Where we had five regular meetings a month previously, we will now have just two. We will attempt to cram five into two without going longer than three hours per meeting. The theory is, if we are properly prepared (more in-depth staff reports) and we ask for staff clarifications by phone or email before meetings, we can make this experiment work.

Budget
The 2013 Town budget was approved on January 22. It begins to implement a long-term financial plan that mandates a 7% annual revenue increase for 8 years. As I have written before, I feel we should look for program savings before we embark on the 7% solution.

In 2012, 8 people attended the budget open house on January 8 and asked collectively just a few questions. In 2013, 19 people attended and expressed strong opinions against high local taxation.

Enerdu
The Enerdu proposal to add a larger powerhouse at the first waterfall in Almonte, and to retain the high flashboards may get its final approvals this year. Comments on the Enerdu environmental assessment report were due February 1.  

The Enerdu project will have both aesthetic and environmental impacts. The large, new powerhouse will significantly shrink the distance between the Barley Mow pub and the old powerhouse. Construction of the new plant, which includes lowering the river bottom above and below the dam, will disrupt the river habitat, at least temporarily.

Mississippi Mills sent the Province a detailed list of issues that need resolving. The Town planner, Steve Sterling, also request a Part 2 EA to address the concerns of the Town and residents.

Note: A meeting of water management reps from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Mississippi Valley Conservation, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the Mississippi River Watchers and other stakeholders in the Mississippi River watershed in November resulted in a recommendation to MNR that the water management plan for the river between Appleton and the Enerdu dam should be opened up and adjusted. The higher flashboards, in place since 2004, may have drowned the riparian forest. 

Council Size
The Town will hold a public meeting this spring and early to discuss changes to Council composition. The proposals will include adding a deputy mayor and reducing the number of councillors.

Recycling

Beginning in June, Mississippi Mills enters into a new seven-year recycling collection, processing and marketing contract with a new service provider. This new recycling contract will include expanded Blue Box services. You can start recycling #3 to # 7 plastics, milk containers, tetra paks and frozen juice containers. For those in Pakenham ward, your biweekly blue box pickup changes to weekly like the rest of MM.

The Roads and Public Works Department is working closely with its partners in the Municipal Waste Group (Carleton Place, Montague, Beckwith and Drummond North Elmsley) to create and launch promotional and educational materials explaining the new system.

Pending
Amendments to the Community Official Plan (COP) are pending as part of the mandatory five-year review. I expect we will have a public meeting on the COP some time in 2013.

By the end of 2013, expect completion of a new Recreation Master Plan. Public consultation is part of the process. Watch for announcements in the usual places.

The Town received grant funds to complete the second phase of the cultural mapping project. The result will be an online resource of our cultural assets that is easy to use and update. That is still pending.

All the best in 2013.

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