Port Hope Lions Recreation site: “We know that toxic waste is there and it’s at extreme levels” — OPG Fail: “It was made clear that the decision was final”
Article by Bill Hornbostel
Port Hope’s Council session on May 3, 2022 had a packed agenda. Council received three delegations: the first on Ride for Rebound, the second on the Northumberland County budget for 2022, and the third on the Lions Centre Park remediation plan. Additionally, Councillors heard updates on Penryn Mason Phase 5 and the Wesleyville land purchase.
Cobourg Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf and Rebound Child and Youth Services Senior Communications & Development Coordinator Gavin Hinton spoke to Council about the upcoming Ride for Rebound fundraiser. Hinton spoke about the services Rebound provides for things like mental health, youth justice, and tutoring.
VandeGraaf spoke about the idea behind Ride for Rebound. “It’s the linkages between crime and what Rebound does,” he said. “The rates of illiteracy and… lower self-esteem rates have a direct correlation to increased crime rates, so… Ride for Rebound is a crime prevention initiative.”
Jennifer Moore, Northumberland County CAO, and Glenn Dees, Northumberland County Director of Finance, spoke about the County’s 2022 budget. Moore talked about the County’s initiatives in 2021-22, such as the reconstruction of the Elgin Park housing units in Cobourg and finalization of the Forest Management Plan. Dees addressed specifics of the $181.3 million budget and the $63.3 million County levy (the top three services provided are road, community and social services, and the paramedics). Dees also spoke about major capital projects over the next ten years; the top three projects are roads, the Golden Plough Lodge rebuild, and creating a consolidated public works facility.
For more about the Northumberland County budget, visit northumberland.ca/en/county-government/budgets.aspx.
Claire Holloway Wadhwani spoke to Council on behalf of the PHorests 4 R PHuture Community Association about the remediation plan for the Lions Centre Park. The central theme of her presentation was the lack of information and transparency.
“Citizens are entitled to have a voice as part of that consideration and decision-making process,” said Wadhwani. “We feel that the lack of transparency and the lack of public consultation around the decision for the trees at Lions Centre Park sets a very dangerous precedent, because this is only the first of many such decisions that this council will have to make about the future of our tree canopy.”
Wadhwani also asked for Council to share the scientific information used for making a decision on the matter. “Surely we will all sleep better knowing that we weighed all the risks and decided based on the science and in the interests of the people,” she said.
The issue of the Lions Centre Park remediation was raised again by a report from Works and Engineering to the Committee of the Whole. The report recommended a resolution on the Lions Centre Park remediation., which would include: confirmation of the direction to remediate the park in accordance with the legal agreement with the Government of Canada; directing staff to ensure a 1:1 tree replacement plan; directing staff to ensure the replanting program consider the short-term and medium-term impact to neighbours; and investigating parkland renewal and redevelopment opportunities.
CAO David Smith spoke about the need for remediation of the site. “These long-known sites are being remediated by Canada, at Canada’s expense, to the benefit of our community; to remediate them ourselves would be financially crippling for our community,” he said.
“We know that toxic waste is there and it’s at extreme levels,” continued Smith. “We know what’s at or near the surface, less than a foot and a half deep for much of it. When you think about that, that’s a shovel-full deep for somebody that may be replanting a plant, a kid building a fort or a BMX ramp, or a dog being a dog. This waste does not dilute, and it does not go away. It is there until somebody takes it away.”
Smith also spoke about discussions with remediation experts and arborists. “The woodlot, in summary, is in decline, and it will continue to decay unless the forest management plan is put in place,” he stated. “Urban woodlands need management plans to survive; with the toxic waste present, no management plan can be put in place.”
The Committee of the Whole received a report on the peer reviews of the Environmental Impact Study and Heritage Impact Assessment for the Phase 5 of Penryn Mason Homes subdivision. The report states that those reports have been finalized and are now available to the public, and that Municipal staff are preparing to go back to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) later this year, with a Case Management Conference (CMC) set for June 22, 2022. Todd Davis characterized the CMC as “the start of the proceedings, where we talk about the administrative pieces and clarifications.”
Mayor Bob Sanderson gave an update on the state of the purchase of the Ontario Power Generation property in Wesleyville, which had been halted by the Province at the end of March. “I, along with senior staff, reached out to the Province and invited Minister Romano, MPP Piccini, and the Premier to discuss the matter. We had a virtual meeting… where it was made clear that the decision was final.”
“Municipal staff, working alongside your elected officials, will continue to advocate for representation regarding any future development,” stated Sanderson. “We will continue to keep all options open, and those include legal ones as well. Also, mayors from across the county and beyond have reached out to me to share their dismay at the Province approach and treatment of a small municipality, and I continue to be disappointed that the Province is not engaged in any meaningful way.”
“We do want to have a strong relationship with the Province,” said Sanderson, adding, “As the Provincial election is currently underway, it is understandable that we will likely not get to the bottom of the issue until after the election. I also do not feel this should be an election issue. And I will be the first in line to speak with the Province when government resumes later this month.”
Council passed four resolutions during this session. The first directed staff to rescind and replace the Councillor remuneration policy for 2018-22, and specified compensation for Councillors at $30,000, the Deputy Mayor at $36,000, and the Mayor at $68,800.
The three other resolutions of the evening were Notices of Intent to Designate three properties as historic for “cultural heritage value or interest”: 10 Armour Street, also known as the Harvey Milton Rose House; 18 Princess Street, also known as the Mitchell House; and 46 Dorset Street East, also known as the Thomas B Spiers House.
Council also passed six new by-laws. The first established a Joint Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee for the upcoming Municipal election on October 24. The second authorized an amended Site Plan Agreement for 20 Jocelyn Street. The third was a Zoning By-Law Amendment for 5229 and 5373 Lakeshore Road, permitting agri-tourism use of the property and the construction of up to ten cabins.
Three more by-laws concluded the cancellation of the Choate Street Extension project. Each entered into an agreement with Cameco: one ended the road construction agreement, another entered into a purchase agreement for the land (Port Hope is paying $1 for the property), and the last entered into a restrictive covenant for the property, limiting the use of the property adjacent to Cameco.
During the Committee of the Whole portion of the evening, reports were submitted by Corporate Services, Finance, Parks Recreation and Culture, and Works and Engineering.
The report from Corporate Services recommended a new Public Notice Policy, which would incorporate social media into the Municipality’s communications: “The new policy improves municipal notice visibility as it describes a mixed-media approach that includes posting the information on the corporate website, on social media, and advertising in the newspaper, where appropriate and applicable.”
Finance submitted four reports to the Committee. The first proposed that a Draft Amendment for the Prescribed Fees for Services By-Law be posted for public consultation; the amendments would apply to curb-cutting fees, parking metre fees, and taxi fares. The second was the First Quarter Financial Report; 79.63% of the annual operating budget currently remains, $643,360 was spent on procurement projects, and prior year tax arrears have been reduced by $337,897. The third was a Grant Summary for 2021; the Municipality received $1,986,941 in formula-based funding and $455,267 in grant-based funding (17 applications were submitted, 14 were successful). The fourth report was First Quarter investment report from CIBC.
Parks, Recreation and Culture gave an event activity report. The report noted that restarting events, programs and facility rentals are a priority for 2022, and that support for event and program partners is needed help restart activities on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also noted that an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for $68,600 has been received to help promote the return of activities and events.
Works and Engineering submitted one additional report, which recommended awarding the contract for Rural Road Resurfacing to Greenwood Paving Limited for $260,720.72.
To watch the full video of the Council and Committee of the Whole meetings (including virtual meetings), you may visit the Port Hope YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/MunicipalityPortHope. Zoom meetings are now also being livestreamed on the same YouTube channel.
For agendas, minutes, and a calendar of meetings, you may visit Port Hope’s Council Portal, porthope.ca/agendas-and-minutes. PDFs of resolutions, by-laws, reports and presentations are available through links in the meetings in which they were presented.