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Council hit with unexpected costs

Like everyone else, even the township gets hit with unexpected costs now and again.

On October 4th, Don Lewis, Manager of Recreation, informed the South Dundas council that three of their roof top units for two of their buildings had been red-tagged by the gas company, meaning that the gas won’t be turned on until the heaters are replaced or fixed.

The Morrisburg Justice Building has two roof top units needing immediate attention. One, almost 20 years old, will be completely replaced. The other, only ten years old, will require only the heat exchanger to be replaced.

The remaining roof top unit in question is also close to 20 years old and can be found in Iroquois at the Civic Centre. This unit will be completely replaced.

A tender invitation is being advertised in this week’s papers.

In terms of financing the repairs, Treasurer Shannon Geraghty told council that there “are some potential items we’ve saved on this year” as well as “savings we could pull from.”

As Mayor Steven Byvelds pointed out, “things break unexpectedly.” He said that he agreed with Geraghty, “we should find savings out of the existing budget.”


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Let’s skate!

It appears that the Morrisburg Shopping Plaza will be getting a skating rink for the Christmas season.

At the October 4th South Dundas council meeting Councillor Jim Graham reported that the Morrisburg Business Improvement Association (BIA) met the previous evening and “agreed there should be a better location.”

Hugh Garlough, Manager of Public Works, said that he’d like to “thank the BIA for accepting my thoughts” and went on to say that  “we will do our best to work with them (and when it) comes time, do whatever we can to cooperate.”

In terms of where the rink will be located, he reported that “the mall location south of the clock tower will not be used as the township has concerns with this location.”

Possible locations were discussed, including the area of the parking lot where the former visitor’s centre was located. However, Garlough informed the Leader that “the location of the BIA’s skating rink has not been decided as of yet.”

“The location will be decided by township staff and the BIA representatives at a later date.”


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Fostering better relations with a cross-border group

Living on the St. Lawrence River, have you ever looked across the water at your neighbours in the United States and wondered, “Are we really that different?”

A press release from Ontario Senator Bob Runciman’s office announced that he has formed a cross-border group with New York State Senators Patty Ritchie and Joseph Griffo.

“This initiative will help open new lines of communication and create a chance to explore new opportunities that can benefit both New York and Canada,” Senator Ritchie said.

The group’s formation came in response to a recent incident in local waters where an American fisherman was arrested for “straying” into Canadian waters.

“The incident reminded Senator Ritchie and I how interdependent the two countries are along the border and how important it is to have a regular dialogue to discuss matters of mutual concern,” Senator Runciman said.

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon has joined Runciman’s group alongside Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark, and Kingston and the Islands MP Ted Hsu. These members, however, were not present for the founding meeting on October 7.

The Leader was able to speak with Lauzon late last week. He told the Leader that “Runciman is taking the lead.”

While he admitted that his “information is somewhat limited” at this point, he did offer the following information: “I’m on the committee. What we’re trying to do is foster better relations between the two border countries and ridings.”

Lauzon referenced the incident with the fisherman as the catalyst to the formation of the cross-border group saying: “We just think if we can open up better communication with both countries at both levels we can eradicate this problem.”

“Northern New York and Eastern Ontario share not just a common border, but face the same challenges and opportunities. It makes economic sense to look for joint solutions,” Runciman said. “And the people in border communities are not just neighbours, but we’re good friends, too. I see this group as a way to reinforce that message.”


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Enhanced response time for fire departments in South Dundas

Your house is on fire and you’ve just called 911. How would you feel knowing that the dispatcher failed to “page out the call” to the fire department? This is just one of the issues with the current South Dundas township’s dispatch system.

At the October 4th meeting of the South Dundas council, South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough reported on the state of the township’s dispatch system and recommended a solution to council.

According to McDonough, the fire department is “currently being dispatched by Christie Walther also know as Canpage Communications.” He provided a list of issues with the dispatch company that impacted the safety of South Dundas residents, including outdated equipment, unreliable personnel, and failure to follow procedures.

For these reasons, he did “joint research with South Glengarry and South Stormont” and it has been concluded that the city of Brockville is the answer.

He told council that the “cost is a little higher, but service is far better.”

McDonough explained that “the expedient and accurate handling of fire calls is a significant factor in the successful outcome of an incident.”

It was reported that “the Brockville Fire Department currently renovated their dispatch centre and purchased a new Crisys Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD).”

According to Crisys Limited, they were “created for the sole purpose of developing the most advanced decision-support systems possible for responding to urgent requests for assistance.”

McDonough recommended that the township “enter into a five year agreement with the City of Brockville to provide a 24/7 Professional Fire Dispatch system, including voice paging system, 2-way radio communications, computer automated dispatch and the Crisys electronic reporting system.”

The recommended system will cost $42,596.54 the first year, which includes $18,163.54 for dispatch, $13,333 for the wireless internet link, and $11,100 for the Crisys reporting system.

The wireless internet link, which costs a total of $40,000 per year, is being divided among the three townships of South Dundas, South Stormont, and South Glengarry for a total of $13,333 each.

The cost for the second year will be $36,236.54 with a 5 per cent increase for each of the following three years left in the contract.

Councillor Archie Mellan was impressed with how the new system would “greatly enhance response time.”

Councillor Evonne Delegarde commented that it seems like a “far superior system” and that it makes sense to “spend the extra money to have a better system.”

The chief agreed, adding that “they’re on top of everything” and “we’ll be able to predict our boundaries a lot sharper – right to the longitude and latitude – very specific.” 

Mayor Steven Byvelds remarked that “the thing this demonstrates is the cooperation of the municipalities.”

The council agreed with Chief McDonough’s recommendation and the current provider will be given a 90 day notice.

McDonough predicts that the “GPS and fire department data will be entered and the equipment installed and tested by December 1, 2011” and that “the system will go live January 2012.”


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SIU concludes investigation

Press Release – October 4, 2011

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with a criminal offence in regards to the death of 52-year-old Judith Fleury in a collision in Morrisburg in July of this year.

The SIU assigned four SIU investigators and two SIU forensic investigators (FI) to probe this incident. SIU FI investigators videotaped and photographed the scene and forensically mapped the collision site and the surrounding environment. 

The Crash Retrieval modules from both vehicles were also collected and examined. 

Pertinent information was also requested and received from the OPP. One officer was designated as a subject officer and six officers were designated as witness officers. The SIU also located and interviewed six civilian witnesses.

The SIU investigation determined that in the early hours of July 31, 2011, the subject officer was driving alone westbound on Hwy 401 in a marked black OPP Suburban SUV canine vehicle with a police dog in the back. The SUV was equipped with emergency lights in its grill as well as a siren. The officer was responding to a call to assist other OPP units regarding a suspect apprehension pursuit of an alleged impaired driver who was traveling northbound on County Road 31 just north of the town of Morrisburg. 

The officer activated his emergency equipment, turned onto County Road 31 and began accelerating. County Road 31 has a posted speed of 80 km/h. Ahead of him were two other OPP vehicles with their emergency equipment activated and involved in a suspect apprehension pursuit.

Ms. Fleury was driving a white Chevrolet Equinox van northbound on County Road 31. She had three passengers in the back seat of her vehicle that she had agreed to pick up from a social event being held on the shores of the St. Lawrence River in Morrisburg. 

She saw the first two OPP vehicles involved in the pursuit and pulled her van over to the side of the road to let them pass. She then continued in a northerly direction on County Road 31. 

The subject officer saw Ms. Fleury’s vehicle in the distance and moved over to the southbound lane in an attempt to pass it. 

It appears that Ms. Fleury decided to make a left turn across County Road 31. According to the accident reconstruction report, at a speed of approximately 17 km/h, she turned directly in front of the Suburban driven by the subject officer at the driveway of 5120 County Road 31. 

The front of the Suburban collided with the two left side doors of the Equinox with one second of pre-collision braking on the southbound side of the road. Just before braking the speed of the Suburban was in excess of the posted speed limit. 

Both vehicles were pushed approximately 105 metres northbound into the west ditch of the county road. The right front corner of the Equinox struck a pole and came to rest immediately to the west of that pole.

The collision caused the death of the Ms. Fleury, and significant injuries to the two male passengers, while the third, a female passenger suffered minor injuries. As well, the subject officer sustained minor head injuries.

Director Scott concluded that, “While the subject officer was driving significantly over the speed limit seconds before the collision, pursuant to s. 128(13)(a) of the Highway Traffic Act, compliance with the speed limits does not apply to police officers in the lawful performance of their duties. 

Here, the subject officer’s assistance in a suspect apprehension pursuit was a lawful execution of his duties and accordingly his speed alone cannot be considered to be unlawful. 

Further, by all accounts, he had his emergency equipment activated. He could have reasonably concluded that Ms. Fleury would have seen the emergency lights and would not turn into the southbound lane. 

Unfortunately, she turned directly into his path and the collision caused her death and significant injuries to two of her three passengers. 

While this incident is a great tragedy, I have no grounds to believe the subject officer committed a criminal offence because he was in the lawful execution of his duties as he was attempting to pass Ms. Fleury’s vehicle.


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Balancing value of volunteers with risk management

Needing insurance is like needing a parachute. If it isn’t there the first time, chances are you won’t be needing it again.

South Dundas Clerk Brenda Brunt outlined the insurance issue for members of council at the October 4th South Dundas council meeting.

“In 2010 our insurance policy changed to not include blanket event insurance coverage for use of Township property. Our insurance carrier or any other does not have this type of coverage.”

In the document provided, she explained that there are “four separate groups that are required to have additional insurance while on Township property.”

“The first group is our outside suppliers such as contractors performing paving, sewer flushing, grass cutting, etc.”

“Secondly, facility rentals are comprised of two sections: non-alcoholic event and alcoholic event. The non-alcohol event can use their homeowners or tenant policy which covers their exposure.”

“The alcohol event requires a minimum of $2 million Commercial General Liability with a $500 deductible and includes injury to participants. Our previous blanket policy did not include injury to participants.”

Finally, there are the Special Events groups such as “Old Home Week, Tubiefest, Antiquefest, Applefest, Harvestfest, BIA Plaza Party” and so on.

Brunt told council that “our objective was to transfer risk away from the township. Our insurance agent thought we were practising good risk management.”

Deputy Mayor Jim Locke interjected saying that “since the last meeting I’ve spent a lot of time researching event insurance” and this is “not special to South Dundas.”

Brunt reported that “as public organizations with taxation power and ‘deep pockets’, municipalities have become targets of litigation when other defendants do not have the means to pay.”

Brunt provides an example of such a situation in her written  recommendation: “the bouncy castle jumping apparatus at Old Home Week – if there was an accident it would start with the owner’s insurance and then the event organizer’s insurance and then the Township. If the event organizer didn’t have insurance then it would go to the Township second. This would be bad risk management. Therefore, the Township is implementing good risk management practises that transfer the risk.”

Locke pointed out that the new policy “not only protects the township, but the organizers as well.”

“First we have to agree that there’s a need for this,” he continued and “down the road discuss how it’s funded.”

Councillor Jim Graham said that “our policy wasn’t put in place to deter volunteers. We all know the value of our volunteers.”

While Councillor Evonne Delegarde agreed that there’s “no question that we need proper insurance,” she also voiced concern about insurance “eating into (volunteer groups’) profits.”

She suggested that “perhaps there’s some way we can look at funding this for these groups” because they’re an “extremely important part of the township.”

She went on to emphasize that council “really has to pay attention to” the township’s volunteers.

In terms of the extra insurance for renting facilities, Delegarde said, “one of my concerns is that the facilities would not be rented.”

At this point, Councillor Archie Mellan remarked that “nobody likes insurance” and that “nothing would scare away a volunteer quicker” than “getting stung.”

He went on to say that “we’re doing this to be proactive for the township” because if the worst were to happen, “rates go up and that impacts our budgets,” which, in turn, impacts the volunteers and residents of South Dundas.

He pointed out that “we just need one claim and we’ll be glad we have” the policy in place.

Locke agreed that “it’s just doing due diligence” in that the policy is a “general benefit to the township (and) we are representing the people of the township.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds pointed out that other municipalities have “changed their way of doing things – not just us. They all say volunteers need to have insurance.”

“As much as we value our volunteers, we don’t want them” to face a lawsuit. 

“Next year, when we look at our donations (we can) see if that funding window will be increased.”


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Parlow Road now open

The October 4th South Dundas council meeting brought news about two roads in the township. 

Parlow Road from County Road 4 to County Road 2 is open to the public as of October 5.

Manager of Public Works, Hugh Garlough proposed to council that the road be designated “an open, Public Highway, maintained year round.”

According to Garlough, the road work for Parlow Road was completed by Willis Kerr Contracting on September 20, 2011.

He put before council a by-law “to insure that the benefitting properties contribute in a like manner to the construction cost of this road extension.” The by-law was approved.

Now that Parlow Road is officially open, Deputy Mayor Jim Locke revealed that he is “glad this controversial matter is finished.”

Councillor Archie Mellan agreed, adding that he’s “glad to see it’s going to be fair.”

In other road news, the Doran Creek Subdivision road’s name is now officially Doran Creek Drive.

The proposal for the name approval came through Garlough who received the request from Henry Swank of Swank Construction.

According to Garlough, “no other township road name is associated with this naming request.” Council unanimously approved the request.


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Have your say!

Do you have something to say to council or something you’d like to ask council about? Well, if you do, it looks like your opportunity has arrived.

Members of the South Dundas council will be making themselves available to the public on Monday, October 17th at 7 p.m. at the Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners.

At the October 4th council meeting, mayor Steven Byvelds announced the upcoming “round table” where there will be an opportunity for “discussion between council and members of the public.”

The meeting falls during the fourth annual Local Government Week, October 16th to 22nd.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing states: “Local Government Week is an opportunity for Ontario students, educators and municipalities to engage one another on  how their communities work.”

Byvelds told the Leader that as of October 6th no schools had contacted him to speak or meet with their students to talk about municipal politics. He commented that the idea “certainly would be a fit for their Civics class.”


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Jr. B Lions in it, but only part of the time

While Morrisburg Junior B Lions coach Thom Racine says “our power play was dreadful all night, and we need to get that in sinc soon” the opposite held true Friday night for the Winchester Hawks who struck for three power play goals in a 5-2 win.

Sunday’s game was a different story as the Lions and the visiting Alexandria Glens kept the penalties to a minimum, but again the Lions ended up on the wrong side of a 6-2 count to collect their fifth loss of the young season.

Friday night in Winchester, “the Lions played a pretty good 40 minutes, but the second period collapse was all too familiar,” says Racine.

Lance Hodgson gave the Lions a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal at 2:01 of the first period, and that lasted until early in the second when Brock Burge got the Hawks rolling with an unassisted power-play goal.

Hawks goals flowed consistently after that, coming at 9:43 from Graham Loyst, 10:37 from Josh Stubbings and 19:46 from Brock Burge on the Hawks power play. 

Nevin Guy pushed it to 5-1, again on the Hawks power play, at 12:33 of the third period and that was it.

Lions goaltender Mikael Dion shut the Hawks down for the remainder of the period, but the Lions were good for only one more, that on the Lions power play with 2:05 left in the game from Matt Ouimet (unassisted).

“We did a lot of watching and forgot to pay attention to our own zone,” says Racine. “I thought we adjusted well in the third period, but could not create any offence.”

The Lions were out shot 54-29. They scored only one goal in 10 power-play opportunities, while the Hawks were successful three out of six times.

The St. Lawrence Division’s first place Alexandria Glens brought their game to Morrisburg on Sunday and never faultered as they worked their way to their eighth win of the season.

They led 2-0 after the first period and carried a 4-1 advantage into the third as they headed for  a 6-2 win.

“Last year we fell behind so early in games we never had a chance to recover,” says Racine. “Sunday against Alexandria, it was no different.”

“Down 2-0 before the five minute mark deflated us, and, although we were the best team for the next 15 minutes, there was no reward.”

“I was not that upset with the entire game. At times we showed we can skate with these top teams, but when we make mistakes we get burned seemingly every time.”

“We also did not move the puck and use each other often enough.”

Ryan Ward chipped in for the lone Lions goal of the second period on the Lions power play with Alex Steingruber and Sylvester Bzdyl assisting.

Ty Hodgson, from Lance Hodgson and Marc Antoine, added goal number two at 6:23 of the third period, again on the Lions power play.

Dion had a busy time in the Lions net as the Glens out shot the Lions 41-29.

Zachary Montpetit-Car and Jean-Francois Dubois had two goals apiece for the Glens, and Bradley Massia and Shane Kitchen collected singles.

“We have a real chance to help ourselves over the next two weeks, but the competition is not going to hand us anything,” says Racine. “Akwesasne is struggling out of the gate and due for a win, and Char-Lan got their first win last weekend.”

The Wolves are in town this Friday night, October 14 for an 8:30 p.m. start and Saturday night, the Lions travel to Williamstown to take on the Rebels. Next Wednesday night they are in Brockville.


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McDonell quietly takes victory:”It’s great to see the riding go blue”

Well, it’s official, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry has shed the red and embraced the blue.

Jim McDonell secured an impressive and tremendous win for the Progressive Conservative party.

The October 6th election left the new MPP with a colossal 21,615 votes equalling 54 per cent of the vote.

While his competitors were left in the dust, it is noteworthy that NDP candidate Elaine MacDonald gave Liberal candidate Mark A. MacDonald a run for his money. 

The Liberals came in second with 22 per cent of the vote (8,483 votes) with the NDP following closely with 21 per cent of the vote (8,078 votes).

The Green Party’s Justin Reist held the fourth spot with two per cent of the vote (553 votes) followed by Libertarian Darcy Neal Donnelly with one per cent of the vote (400 votes).

As if the PC’s landslide victory and the NDP’s substantial increase in vote percentages wasn’t enough in terms of noteworthy election tales, it appears that this provincial election had its lowest voter turnout in years.

More than 50 per cent of eligible voters chose not to vote in this election. Elections Ontario, on October 7th, said that “preliminary and unofficial results currently indicate that 49.02 per cent of eligible voters in the province cast their ballot.”

For those who did vote and for those interested in the outcome of the election, McDonell’s victory party took place at the Ramada Inn in Cornwall. Accompanied by wife Margie, he entered the room to the welcoming sound of the Scottish bagpipes.

Also by  his side were daughters Marion and Chelsea and, unexpectedly home from Calgary was McDonell’s son Bernie there to offer his support as well.

He began his short acceptance speech saying, “it’s great to see the riding go blue!” 

The bulk of his speech, however, was spent thanking the people who helped him achieve his victory: “I can’t stress the help I got from all the volunteers. (It’s) all about the volunteers and the people that came out; they make the difference.”

He went on to say that “over the four years they will hear us.”

In response to the overwhelming votes in his favour, McDonell confessed that he was “somewhat shocked” but, at the same time, he and his volunteers “heard the same thing” when they were out campaigning and talking to people: “People were upset” with the way things were being done.

He finished his short speech with a thank you and an invitation to the crowd “to have some fun.”

Since election night, McDonell has kept busy. This past weekend was spent taking a lot of the election signs down and gearing up for the excitement and challenges coming his way.

In a phone call to the Leader Tuesday morning, he admitted that it has been a “bit of a whirlwind the last few days” and that it’s been “lots of fun.”

He said that he’s expecting “orientation information in the next day or two” about the upcoming “session in Toronto.”

He wants to assure people that he will “continue on with actions of government locally.” 

In fact, he attended a South Stormont council meeting Tuesday night where he officially handed in his resignation as mayor.

When asked if there was anything he’d like to share with the people of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, McDonell replied: “Thanks to all the people who came out and helped.”

He vowed to “be there for all the residents of this riding” because “that’s really our job.”