by Neil Macmillan
Cornwall City Council worked much later than usual at its regular meeting on March 25 in order to get through a lengthy and varied agenda.
The early part of the meeting consisted of three presentations:
- The signing of the Book of recognition by 13-year-old Kalem Payment, Chair of Rachel’s Kids Autism Awareness Campaign for 2019. Kalem was accompanied by his mother Dominique, a project coordinator with Rachel’s Kids, while his proud father Corey and six-year-old brother Samuel watched on from the audience. According to Dominique, it is estimated that one in 55 children in Ontario will be diagnosed somewhere along the autism spectrum. Kalem’s appearance evoked a warm response from councillors, including a big hug from Mayor Bernadette Clement. Council also agreed to proclaim Tuesday, April 2, 2019 as World Autism Awareness Day in Cornwall.
- Next up was Jim Bruzzeese, a senior partner with BMA Management Consultation Inc. of Hamilton, who presented a building permit fee review in the context of no building permit fee increase in Cornwall since 2014, construction costs that have not been updated since 2005, and the fact that Cornwall taxpayers currently subsidize an estimated 42% of the actual cost of issuing building permits. The thrust of his presentation was to explore the mechanics of increasing building permit fees to around the average for Ontario (see chart below), either on the current per $1,000 of estimated value or per square foot of building area. Since any changes will potentially have a significant impact on the local construction industry, they will first be submitted to public consultation.
- Lastly, Council heard from a delegation from the healthcare sector to solicit a $50,000 annual contribution over three years to support one medical resident per year from Queen’s University in Kingston in the emergency department of Cornwall Community Hospital. Council voted unanimously in favour of this request, especially since its reserve fund is currently sitting at over $400,000 and there is a good possibility that these resident doctors might decide to stay in Cornwall.
In other business, Council:
- heard that the quality of the city’s drinking water continues to be 100% compliant, as it has been for the past 10 years;
- agreed to pursue studies on protecting and enhancing the tree canopy and natural vegetation within city boundaries;
- adopted a corporate policy on council-staff relations;
- agreed to dedicate the last week in January every year to a collective period of remembrance for all mayors, councillors and municipal employees, past and present, who passed away during the previous calendar year; this remembrance would include an annual presentation at the Council meeting during that period and the flying of the flag outside City Hall at half-mast;
- agreed to defer its policy statement on private retail cannabis stores for further consultations with the downtown business improvement associations (DBIAs);
- unanimously approved the creation of an environment and climate change committee to, among other things, look at reducing the carbon footprint of both the Corporation and the city as a whole;
- approved the new waste-management regulations;
- heard that Cornwall will be receiving an additional $2.952 million from the federal government’s fuel tax revenues, on top of the $2.8 million already allocated, as well as a one-type payment of $140,940 from the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to support the city’s efforts to streamline its service delivery.