In October, reports from the South Dundas planning department showed that South Dundas was having a good year, growth-wise.
Last week, South Dundas council found out just how good, when they were presented with the 2012 building permit summary.
According to those figures, South Dundas experienced a record year, with construction projects valued at more than $27 million taking place.
That is a huge increase over 2011, when total construction for the year was valued at just under $13 million.
“That’s really good news,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds at the February 5 council meeting. “We have 34 new residences.”
While the number of new residences is about the same as the previous year, there were about 30 more permits for residential construction sold in 2012, meaning that more people are making improvements to existing residences.
South Dundas even experienced some industrial growth. Five industrial building permits were sold in 2012, as compared to only two in 2011.
The increase in the sale of building permits represents immediate revenue for the municipality when the permits are issued and fees are paid. South Dundas collected almost $40,000 more in permit fees in 2012, than 2011.
In the long run this growth will result in additional property tax revenue for the municipality.
This year marks the halfway point of this term of council and looking back over the first part of the term, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds is fairly satisfied.
“We’ve come a long way,” Byvelds told reporters at the year-end interview at council chambers in Williamsburg December 14. “We have a lot of projects on the go.”
Old high school getting a new lease on life
One of these projects, the $4 million renovation of the former Morrisburg Collegiate Institute, will mean that this year’s interview will likely be the last to take place at council chambers in Williamsburg. The mayor already plans for the 2013 interview to take place in the mayor’s office of the new municipal building in Morrisburg.
For Byvelds, the highlight of 2012 has definitely been getting the reconstruction of the old high school started, as it has been in the works since before the start of this term of council.
“A lot of people are saying this project was the right thing to do, while others wonder why we would bother with that old building, but that’s okay,” said Byvelds, who is confident in the end this building will prove to be an asset to the community on many levels.
Not only will it bring municipal administration under one roof, it will bring a medical facility under the same roof. Byvelds believes the end result will be a building that the community can take pride in.”
“Personally, I’d just like to see it done,” said Byvelds, who is ready to mark that project off his ‘to do’ list.
Waste water projects fully funded
The construction of a new waste water treatment plant in Iroquois is ongoing, and fully funded. Although it is running a little behind schedule, the mayor said there is no worry that it won’t be completed in time to take full advantage of the available funding.
Along with that project, the funds are also in place for a project to address some of the long-time sewer issues that over overburdened the villages sewer systems during heavy rainfall events.
“Once these key pieces of infrastructure are done, we will be well suited for our journey forward,” said Byvelds.
With the infrastructure of South Dundas seeming well looked after, South Dundas has also made great strides theoretically.
Planning for the future
Community and economic development planning processes were completed, the Morrisburg Waterfront plan has been submitted to council and they are looking forward to the Iroquois Waterfront plan in the near future.
“These processes gave residents the opportunity to express their feelings and what that gives us, council and staff, is direction,” said Byvelds, explaining that it helps them when they are trying to decide which projects to prioritize as most important to the community at large.
Few challenges in 2012
Categorized by the mayor as challenges for 2012 were the Morrisburg dock being condemned, the proposed sale of the 400 acre Williamsburg forest and the decision to proceed with the Morrisburg Collegiate project.
With the dock and the ‘400’, when council made decisions that negatively impacted people, they were quick to let council know. And, Byvelds said that council was willing to listen and to make the necessary decisions to attempt to rectify the situations.
One time that council has had difficulty addressing the concerns of residents has been when the group opposing local wind turbine projects surfaced.
“The South Branch Wind project has been on the books a long time,” said Byvelds, explaining that the project predates this council and that while there are area residents who oppose the project, there are other residents who have invested significantly in this project.
“This council had no say in that project, but we will have a say on any future projects that come to us, seeking our support,” said Byvelds.
The decision to proceed with the renovation of the old high school proved to be a difficult one for council, and was definitely an instance when Mayor Byvelds found it necessary to provide some leadership and make his stance known.
Looking ahead to 2013, Byvelds hopes for the successful continuation and completion of the ongoing projects.
Budget predictions for prudent spending
First and foremost in the minds of he and the other council members in the new year is the budget process.
Byvelds won’t make any predictions about the budget, only saying that they as a council plan to continue as they have in the past, being as prudent as they can be when it comes to spending.
He said that they as a council are waiting to see where staff numbers come in and then to proceed with the decision-making process from there. “If we need to whittle it down, we will. That’s our job.”
“Council’s objective is to be as constrained as possible, and to be realistic with what we spend taxpayers money on.”
“Council’s attitude has been that we need to bring South Dundas forward, to spend conservatively, but not to be too conservative. The idea is to do the right things at the right times,” said Byvelds. “It’s important to seize opportunities when they present themselves.”
Satisfied, but still striving
Byvelds said that this council has gelled quickly from the day they were elected and that the all of the decisions regarding council business are made at the council table. “And, that’s a good thing for South Dundas,” he said.
He said that council has done well at being approachable and available to residents of South Dundas with concerns, and sees that continuing.
“Everyone has an opinion, and it is up to us as a council to listen to those opinions.”
Reflecting on council in general, Byvelds said, “We can always be better, and we always strive to be better.”
As of January 1st 2015, the Ontario government has put in place new regulations to protect the public from tobacco and its harmful effects.
The new regulations that have been added to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act have made it illegal to smoke on bar and restaurant patios, and on (and within 20 metres of) playgrounds, and public sports fields and surfaces. Selling tobacco on the campuses of postsecondary education institutions is now illegal as well.
Strengthening the ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, playgrounds and public sports fields
In the past, smoking was only banned on covered or partially covered patios in Ontario. The new regulations have made it illegal to smoke on all outdoor bar and restaurant patios.
The province has also banned smoking on and around playgrounds, public sport fields and surfaces. The ban applies to all outdoor public sports facilities such as basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields, ice rinks, tennis courts, splash pads and swimming pools that are owned by a municipality, the province or a postsecondary education institution. Besides sport fields, it is also illegal to smoke on sport surfaces, in spectator areas around sport fields and 20 metres surrounding these locations. The ban includes playgrounds at hotels, motels and inns as well.
Banning the sale of tobacco products on school campuses
Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has also banned the sale of tobacco products on the campuses of postsecondary education institutions, such as colleges and universities. The new regulations apply to buildings and areas that are owned or leased by postsecondary education institutions or student unions and that are used for students’ education programs, recreational activities or residential services.
For more information visit www.eohu.ca.