On March 16, 2023, the Township of Algonquin Highlands Council passed By-Law 2023-19 to adopt the estimates of expenditures, in the amount of $14,518,951.00 and revenues, in the amount of $8,258,887.00 for the 2023 calendar year. The sum of $6,260,064.00 shall be levied for General Municipal purposes on the assessment in each property class to fund the remaining 2023 estimated expenditures.
The Township portion of the tax rate will realize an increase of $12.63 or 3.70% per $100,000 of Residential Assessment. While the combined tax rate, including County of Haliburton and Education requirements, results in an increase of $19.04 or 2.629% per $100,000 of Residential Assessment.
The Township was able to open most facilities and restart programs in 2022 and will continue to do so in 2023 with a primary focus on the Dorset Recreation Centre project which is now underway. Operational and capital projects are planned and estimates in place; however, the Township continues to face supply chain issues and increased costs.
After the election in November 2022 Council and staff met to discuss the projects and priorities for the coming year with the intention of improving and modernizing services, increasing efficiencies, and maintaining sustainability in accordance with the Township of Algonquin Highlands Strategic Vision. These projects and priorities are outlined below.
Operationally, the administrative team have now completed the implementation of the financial software. Due to supply and timing issues, the purchase and implementation of new cemetery software and asset management software was deferred to 2023. We are also working with the County and other local municipalities to purchase and implement records management software. These innovative programs are being put in place to establish more efficient ways to manage, report and track municipal data.
As the Township continues to strive to meet accessibility standards we are working on a new and modern website with the hopes to be able to provide a more accessible and efficient means for property owners to submit payments, permits and requests to continue effective contactless service options.
In 2023, the Township will actively be recruiting a Project Manager. This position will be responsible for larger infrastructure projects such as the Dorset Recreation Centre Mould Remediation and HVAC Upgrades and the new Public Works Garage.
The Township will develop a new Strategic Plan and will continue discussions with the County and neighbouring municipalities to implement the innovative plans and ideas resulting from the Service Delivery Review.
Protection to Persons and Property
The Community Risk Assessment was completed in 2022 in conjunction with the County of Haliburton. The information gathered in this exercise will be used to now update the Township of Algonquin Highlands Fire Master Plan. Along with regular replacements of protective gear and equipment, the department is also planning to purchase forest fire safety gear, upgrade the communication bunker at the Dorset Tower, purchase a rapid deployment craft, a new utility vehicle and a zodiac. The firefighters will continue with regular training but will also be completing Swift Water Rescue training to ensure they have the proper training and equipment available for remote and water rescues. The department will also be redeploying the Fire Chief’s pick up to be used as a support vehicle and purchasing a hybrid SUV for the Chief in an effort to be more fuel efficient, reduce emissions and support climate change initiatives.
Building and Bylaw Department
The building and bylaw department continues to be busy and is looking to recruit additional staff to complete the septic reinspection program during the summer months. Council has also approved the recruitment of an additional by-law enforcement officer for the summer months to support our full-time by-law officer and provide weekend coverage. In 2022 the department had planned to purchase a hybrid vehicle but due to supply chain issues, this project was deferred to 2023.
Late in 2022 the Stanhope Library Accessibility Lift Project was completed and the Township was able to reopen the library branch – minor improvements are planned for 2023.
Public Works (Transportation)
Airport – the Township will be updating the Airport Land Use and Development Plan and staff will be preparing a new interior design plan for the terminal building in an effort to revamp the space to be more accessible. A card lock system and gate will be installed to improve security at the airport.
Buildings and Maintenance – various projects are planned for many of the facilities managed by the township with the intention of improving accessibility and increasing energy efficiency – these projects include but are not limited to replacing the roof, soffit and facia at the Dorset Museum, increasing attic insulation at Dorset Public Works garage, re-shingling the roof at the Municipal office and increasing the insulation and replacing stonework at the Stanhope Firefighters’ Community Centre. The Dorset Recreation Centre continues to be the main priority and the project is now underway. The Township will also be working to finalize plans for a new Public Works garage in the Stanhope area and will be looking at a redesign of the existing shop to be used by the Maintenance team and Parks Recreation and Trails staff.
Equipment – replacement of aged equipment will continue in accordance with the Asset Management Plan and vehicle replacement plan and in conjunction with other departments. As always, vehicles will be redeployed to other departments to complete their lifecycles where possible.
Construction Projects – a design plan, tender and phased construction will continue on North Shore Road along with subgrade road repairs on McPhail Road and ditching and culvert replacements as required throughout the Township. Annual surface treatment applications are planned for approximately seven kilometres of roadway throughout the Township. Staff will be collaborating with consultants to complete a speed limit review, traffic sign inspection and inventory and a traffic survey.
Waste – construction of the Maple Lake Waste Management Site Operations Centre will continue and is planned for completion in 2023. The new Operations Centre will increase efficiencies and create a more seamless flow for users and operators. Attendant services will be increased to support the transition to the new Operations Centre. Site enhancements, general repairs and replacement of decking, bins, gates, and equipment will be completed at other waste management sites throughout the year. The budget reflects increased costs for hauling and processing of materials for all sites. The Environmental Manager will continue to collaborate with local municipalities and the County to review single-tier waste management services, maintain the Waste Wizard and improve digital reporting and data collection for waste management services.
Climate Change – support for the County of Haliburton FoodCycler project, for distribution of five hundred FoodCyclers to County residents
Parks, Recreation and Trails
Parks and Trails – annual maintenance duties will be completed at all locations along with tree and flower planting, seeding, the replacement of wooden planters in Dorset and zipline cable and platform replacements at Elvin Johnson Park. The Stanhope tennis court will be reconstructed in 2023. Capital equipment purchases planned for 2023 include a replacement mower/blower, ski trail groomer and a long shaft boat motor.
Dorset Tower – the installation of a lightening protection system was planned for 2022 but not completed. It is on the docket for 2023 along with the upper roadway resurfacing and wiring upgrades to the upper gatehouse. Staff will also be working with consultants to develop plans and costing for future improvements and updates of the Tower structure.
Docks and Landings – the updates at Lower Fletcher (Skin) Lake will be completed and surveys produced for Fletcher Lake and Russell Landing. Staff will be working on an assessment and community engagement process for Russell Landing on Kawagama Lake along with design and costing for consideration in future budgets.
Water Systems and Equipment – updates will be completed at the Dorset Recreation Centre water treatment system.
Planning and Development
Shoreline Preservation By-Law – the County of Haliburton passed the Shoreline Preservation By-Law and each local Township will work collaboratively with the County to implement the by-law.
Short Term Rentals – Council and staff will continue to participate in the Short-Term Rental policy development with the County of Haliburton.
Development Charges Review - Council and staff will continue to participate in the Development Charges policy creation with the County of Haliburton.
Shore Road Allowance and License of Occupation Policy – will continue to be reviewed and updated.
Cultural Resources Committee – staff will assist the committee members with various projects and policy updates.
Planning Policy – a presentation and final review of a Dark Sky policy will be completed.
Service Delivery Review – continuation of the implementation of ideas identified by the County-wide service delivery review.