May 26, 2020 County Council Highlights

Warden’s Activity Update

The Warden thanked the many organizations and individuals who have very generously donated supplies, food, and gifts to the County’s Long-Term Care Homes during the pandemic. Although plans are being made to gradually re-open the economy and society, the Warden emphasized that everyone must remain diligent and remember that we are all part of the solution.

Elgin County 2020 Grant and Festival Events Partnership Program Allocations

Councillor Ketchabaw, Chair of the Rural Initiatives and Planning Advisory Committee, provided an overview of the Committee’s most recent meeting, held on May 12, 2020. Several events and programs have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Eat2Learn submitted a revised grant proposal. With the closure of schools, this organization has partnered with several local food banks to assist families who need food at this time. Elgin County Council granted $6250 in funding to Eat2Learn and $150 in funding to support tourism signage for the Aylmer-Malahide Museum through the 2020 Elgin County Tourism Directional Signage Grant Program.

Tree Commissioner/Weed Inspector Year End Report for 2019

The Tree Commissioner/Weed Inspector presented a summary of activity related to the Elgin Woodlands Conservation By-Law for the period of November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2019 and weed inspection activity for the 2019 season. The report can be accessed here.

Elgin-St. Thomas Economic Resiliency and Recovery Taskforce

An Elgin-St. Thomas Economic Resiliency and Recovery Taskforce has been formed as a collaboration between stakeholders within the Elgin-St. Thomas area and the Economic Development Department. The goal of the taskforce is that Elgin-St. Thomas returns to a strong, vibrant economy, and it will provide feedback to local government on how best to respond to the economic crisis that is currently impacting the local business community.

Emergency Communications Summary

The Community and Cultural Services Department has spearheaded COVID-19 related communications under the leadership of the Director of Community and Cultural Services. The team implemented a new Live Chat service to respond to resident questions given the closure of County offices. They also continue to post regular updates on the County’s COVID-19 site and social media. The communications team will remain active throughout the emergency response and recovery period.

April 2020 Budget Performance

The budget comparison for the County shows a favourable performance of $87,000 for the month of April, primarily the result of favourable wage performance stemming from the COVID shortage-of-work, bringing year-to-date performance to $294,000.

Centennial Road / Elm Line Intersection Improvements – Online Public Information Centre

The Director of Engineering Services provided an overview of the ongoing online Public Information Centre, which presents background information, evaluation of alternatives, and a Technically Preferred Alternative for intersection improvements at Centennial Road and Elm Line. The intersection is a four-way intersection currently only controlled at its north and south approaches with stop conditions. Existing conditions require significant driver concentration to navigate the intersection during peak vehicular periods, and improvements of this intersection are required prior to full subdivision build-out.

The online Public Information Centre is now available on the County’s study webpage

Contract Awards – Culvert Sliplining and Culvert Replacement

Gary D. Robinson Contracting submitted the lowest compliant bid for the project at a total price of $399,900.00 inclusive of a $25,000 contingency allowance and exclusive of HST. The submitted bid is within budget estimates.

Addressing Elgin County’s Connectivity Challenges

The Chief Administrative Officer addressed the connectivity challenges in Elgin County. Accessible high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but a basic requirement for everyday economic, social and cultural activities, and effective implementation can result in new and improved online services, including commerce, government, health and education. Through their support of equitable access initiatives and collaborative efforts, including private sector investments, Council is dedicated to helping stimulate a healthy, competitive market.

Rural Connectivity Conference

Information Technology and Economic Development staff will host a rural connectivity conference in the fall. The conference would be part of the Economic Development Department’s yearly conference series. Although still in the early planning stages, a key component of this conference would be to have Internet Service Providers (ISPs) present various ideas or solutions for rural communities struggling to provide high speed internet to their residents.

Electronic Meeting Provisions: Post-Pandemic

In light of the pandemic, municipalities were expected to adopt a virtual format for the majority of their meetings and services, to minimize travel and gathering of large crowds. The flexibility afforded to Council through the changes to the Municipal Act during a declared state of emergency would be helpful on a go-forward basis. Council directed the Warden to send a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Steve Clark, requesting that the Province of Ontario amend Section 238 (3.1) of the Municipal Act, to allow Members to participate electronically in a meeting either in full or in part on an ongoing basis as is currently happening during the Provincial and Municipal Declarations.

The complete May 26, 2020 County Council Agenda package can be found here.