CFB Trenton’s economic impact on Quinte
The economic impact of CFB Trenton on the Quinte area has been highlighted at a meeting of the Quinte Economic Development Commission.
In a presentation to the QEDC on Tuesday, Commanding Officer Colonel Mark Goulden emphasized that the millions of dollars in capital projects at the base represents work for local companies.
#1 COL GOULDON
The base makes a payment of about $10 million a year to the municipality, in place of taxes.
The Commission may soon be offering a helping hand to military early retirees who want to get into the Quinte area workforce.
Colonel Goulden told the Commission that he has been talking with Loyalist College about people transitioning out of the military but still wanting to work. He said “a lot of people struggle with that transition.”
Following the meeting Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher told Quinte News “It is an opportunity to join the many Bay Of Quinte area startup companies.” He noted the unemployment rate is low (under 5%) and it is often difficult to find workers.
Executive Director Chris King said the QEDC “would be happy to get involved in that effort.”
Goulden noted the the base is gearing up to deliver the helicopters for Canada’s mission in Mali whenever the order is received, and he said the base will be getting new aircraft for 424 Squadron Search and Rescue over the next year and a half.
Municipal campaign advice and more
Belleville has approved an official policy to meet the new guidelines around use of municipal resources during the election campaign period.
City Clerk Matt MacDonald reminded city council Monday night that once councillors sign nomination papers, they should separate their campaign business from city business, and that includes non-use of city cell phones and computer resources for the campaign.
MacDonald said the new policy just re-enforces rules already in place.
He advised councillors and others who might be considering running for council, “…to take any steps which are necessary to protect yourselves first and foremost and the corporation by association would be much appreciated. Certainly there may be times for current sitting members when you may get questioned on say, parking on a certain street. Something to do with you being a councillor and then may follow up with an election related issue. My suggestion is to then direct them to a different email address for further election issues.”
Councillor Mitch Panciuk asked MacDonald if current members of council are restricted from appearing in the city’s Belleville magazine while campaigning.
MacDonald said a decision regarding publishing during the campaign period will be made soon. He said he and Mayor Taso Christopher have been discussing that issue. He indicated the magazine may not be published during the campaign period.
The clerk also indicated workshops will be held for candidates seeking election.
The nomination period for the municipal election opens in May, the actual campaign period for the fall election is later in the summer.
Extending the Arts and Culture grant deadline
Belleville has decided to give the Arts and Culture community another chance at grant money this year.
At the April deadline, $10,000 was left over since not enough groups made applications by the once-a-year deadline.
Councillor Jack Miller told council Monday night there should be another opportunity for applications since sometimes a group’s plans develop later in the year.
Miller noted that, in the past, the the total $25,000 grant was used up, “so it came as a bit of a shock to have money left over.”
Fighting CP Rail for rail crossing costs
Belleville may soon find itself in a fight with CP Rail over funding the rehabilitation of the Herchimer Avenue rail crossing.
The city plans to reconstruct Herchimer Avenue from Dundas Street to the Bayshore, which will include a multi-purpose trail.
The hitch is that CP Rail is not willing to pay for the rail crossing section.
After considering staff options which would delay the work during negotiations, city council decided Monday night to go with an option proposed by Councillor Mitch Panciuk.
Construction will go ahead on both sides of the track while the city takes its funding issue with CP Rail to the Canada Transportation Agency.
It could cost the city $338,000.
Director of Engineering Rod Bovay says the city has won its cases before the agency in the past. There are a number of rail crossings throughout the city.
Bovay said it would take about eight months to get the costs paid if the city won the case.
Mayor Taso Christopher said, “This could be handcuffing future councils for years if this doesn’t go our way. It’s very unfortunate that CP is not being a good corporate partner on this venture. CP is dragging their feet on this.
Phase one of the work is scheduled to go ahead this year.
Making way for pedestrian/cycling path
Cyclists and pedestrians alike will have a new pathway in Belleville’s west end this summer.
Some clear-out work is underway this week, making way for the pedestrian/cycling pathway on Bridge Street West.
Manager of Engineering Ray Ford.
The pathway will also be built on the other side.
Ford tells Quinte News, “We’ll see lots of activity along there over the next six to eight weeks, as they shape the boulevard up and get it ready for paving. I’m looking to the end of June to have that project completed.”
Last fall, city council awarded the contract to Cooney Excavating Limited at $480,000.
It’s part of a total of $2.8 million to build a pedestrian/cycling network across the city.
Getting ready for the police
Demolition is now expected to begin on the interior of the site of Belleville’s new police station.
The new station will be built in the former Belleville Water and Veridian Connections building at the corner of College Street and Sidney Street.
The last of those staff members in the two offices moved out last weekend.
They are now at the new location in the city’s building on Wallbridge Crescent, which has already been renovated.
The College-Sidney site will be one-and-a-half times the size of the present police station.
The interior of the building will be demolished and re-built to the specifications of the police service.
There will also be an addition to expand the building at the nine acre site.
The cost of construction and associated fees for Belleville’s new police station are expected to be a total $21 million, with another $2 million required for IT and communications.
Still a few students without immunization
The student immunization deadline for Quinte area schools has passed, with still a few of those who haven’t received their shots barred from school.
In January of this year, 4,000 notices went out to students who were without the required immunization.
By the April 6 deadline, there were still 570 without the required shots and, therefore, unable to return to school.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Manager of Communicable Diseases Bill Sherlock says that number is down to about 75.
The provincial government changed the law last year, requiring parents of conscientious objectors to attend an education session first.
Sherlock told the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Health earlier this year some parents are a little reluctant but they comply. He said “some believe it causes autism and others say they don’t see why the immunization is needed since the diseases are so rare. ”
In 2017, 313 students, without proper exemptions, were suspended at the April deadline and had to get the shots before returning to classes.
Belleville pays its share of LTC bill: Cooney
Hastings County has fired back at Belleville after learning the city has refused to pay the increased costs for Hastings Manor and Centennial Manor.
At its budget meeting, Belleville city council decided not to support the increases that ranged from 17% to 31%.
Council also decided to review the “exit clause” on share-funding the two long term care homes, Hastings Manor in Belleville and Centennial Manor in Bancroft.
Hastings County Warden Rodney Cooney tells Quinte News the 2018 increase for all shared services, including social service and emergency services, is 3.5%.
Hastings Manor has a waiting list of 278 people. Cooney says there are 79 people on the waiting list for Centennial Manor.
He says that at Hastings Manor 12,178 personal support worker hours would need to be cut if there was no increase in budget. He says it would mean laying off 6.25 full-time PSW staff.
“It would be even worse at Centennial Manor,” said Cooney. “The Belleville cuts would translate into 17,882 fewer PSW hours or 9.17 full-time staff losing their jobs.
He said anything less would mean staff cuts in the long term care homes.
City Councillor Egerton Boyce, who had supported the increases in the budget vote, told Quinte News the answer lies with private businesses.
Following a meeting of the county’s Finance Committee on Tuesday, Cooney told Quinte News, “To be clear, we will be sending Belleville the bill for their portion of the Long Term Care budgets and we expect payment in full as per the cost sharing agreement.”
Cooney pointed out Quinte West is supporting the Long Term Care budget and the other shared services.
In an interview following the meeting, he emphasized the county will be sending Belleville the bill and “expects payment in full.”
In a media statement, Finance Chair Paul Jenkins says “If we did what Belleville wants, resident care will be dramatically reduced”
Could mean more $$$ for Belleville
A proposed merger to increase the size of Belleville’s electrical corporation partnership, Veridian Connections, could increase profits to the city.
Belleville is expected to make a decision soon on whether or not to support the proposed addition of another municipality to the Veridian partnership.
Belleville, Ajax, Clarington, and Pickering have been partners in Veridian Connections for the past 17 years, bringing in $17.4 million in profit to the city of Belleville over those years.
The new proposal is to merge with Whitby Hydro Energy Corporation.
Veridian President and CEO Michael Angemeer told city council recently the merger would mean Belleville’s profit share would go from 13% to 9%, but the increase in the number of customers to 165,000 would increase the profit to $21.9 million for a similar 17-year period.
Belleville plans to hold a public meeting on the issue at its council meeting, April 23.
The issue would then go to another city council meeting for consideration on whether or not to give final approval.
If approved by all partners, the new energy services company could go into effect in 2019.
More investigation into Quinte Waste Solutions incident
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has made one order but is continuing its investigation into an incident at Quinte Waste Solutions that sent one man to hospital earlier this month.
According to the Ministry, a worker was attempting to clear refuse from the feed-end of a running conveyor on April 6 when his arm got stuck in the machine.
The man was taken to hospital with a fractured arm.
A spokesperson for the Ministry told Quinte News Monday that “it ordered HGC Management to acquaint workers with the hazard of accessing a specified area of machinery, and that has been done.”
Meanwhile the Ministry of Labour is continuing its investigation into the incident.
New traffic lights for major intersection
A major intersection between Belleville and the City of Quinte West will get some upgrades early this summer.
Wallbridge-Loyalist Road is the boundary line between the two cities and the Hamilton Road intersection is a busy one.
Belleville and Quinte West have come to an agreement on cost-sharing for intersection improvements, including traffic lights.
In his report to city council recently, Manager of Transportation Joe Reid said this will help pedestrian as well as vehicle traffic.
Under the cost-sharing agreement, Quinte West will manage the road contract work since it is making significant improvements to its own Hamilton Road at the same time.
Belleville will pay $235,000 with Quinte West portion coming to $60,000 more, at $292,500.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of June.
Belleville 2018 tax hike under 2% to under 3%
Belleville has approved its 2018 operating budget with the average tax increase between just under 2% to just under 3%.
During its two days of budget debate, city council cut close to $1 million from the operating budget and dipped into the Casino reserve for $500,000.
This set the budget at $95 million and kept the four city-wide average tax rate increases under 3% for homeowners with an average assessment of $256,000.
Mayor Taso Christopher
Also the city decided not to pay the 2018 increases on Long Term Care Facilities.
Councillor Jack Miller noted there was a little more than $557,000 in the Casino infrastructure reserve fund and another payment would be coming to the city in the nest couple of weeks. Council agreed and passed a motion to use that amount.
During the final day of debate, council approved $91,000 for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network for its project on closing the gap in cell service.
Councillor Paul Carr called for updates on the project every six months “since it is very important for rural residents.”
Twenty seven municipalities are involved. The four year project will only go ahead if the provincial and federal governments provide some funding.
Council was told climate change is having an affect on the budget issues at Quinte Conservation.
Councillor Jackie Denyes, a member of the Conservation board, told Belleville city council during budget debate Wednesday, that drought and flood conditions over the past few years have hit the agency hard..
Denyes said out of 480 calls most were caused by these problems.
City council approved the 4.6% increase that the agency had submitted.
Tax rate increases:
Belleville urban: 1.5%
Canifton urban: 1.46%
Canifton rural: 2.10%
Belleville looks at exit-clause on LTC facilities
Belleville’s taking a tough stance on the escalating cost of long term care facilities.
During its budget deliberations Wednesday, city council refused to pay the increased costs for Hastings Manor and Centennial Manor, which range from 17% to 31%.
Council approved a motion introduced by Councillor Jackie Denyes that the city review the “exit clause” on share-funding the two Long Term Care Homes, Hastings Manor in Belleville and Centennial Manor in Bancroft.
Hastings County clerk Jim Duffin told council that the Centennial Manor funding contract was arranged during the amalgamation of Thurlow Township and the city and therefore any change would involve opening up the amalgamation agreement to change it.
Meanwhile Belleville, which shares the costs of services with Hastings County and Quinte West, voted to continue paying its share at the 2017 level.
Officials from the county told council there were a number of issues which increased the budget for the shared service including sick leave, patients with difficulties such as Alzheimer’s and there was a decrease in funding from the province.
Councillor Garnet Thompson is Chair of Community and Human Services says there are difficulties.
Hastings Director of Finance Sue Horwood told council the province is attempting to have the staffing standard at four hours per patient.
At present, Hastings Manor sits at under 2.5 hours.
Council did vote to approve funding for a 5% increase for social housing and a 12.5% hike in the Emergency Services budget.