Following several week’s of discussion and negotiation, Council members took the opportunity to voice their opinions – as well as continuing to ask questions – about the Downtown Development Group’s Proposal for development in the downtown core. Read Wendy’s comments from the Policy Review Committee meeting of May 14 by following Media and Speeches.
Listen to Wendy’s latest interview with Maureen Pegg on Lake88 as they discuss changes to the garbage and recycling programs in Carleton Place. Follow the link: http://lake88.ca/in-focus-wed-may-15-2013-wendy-leblanc/
Check under the Where’s Wendy tab to find out Wendy’s schedule for May 2013.
A Snapshot of Carleton Place’s Financial Position
Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Meeting
April 24, 2013
(This was delivered as a PowerPoint presentation.)
Good morning. I am pleased to be here speaking with members of the Chamber once again and I appreciate your getting up early to attend the event. I was tempted to steal a few good lines from Chamber member Father David Andrew’s sermon of last Sunday but I’ll stick with just mentioning that he spoke about a topic we all love to hate, particularly this time of year – taxes! I’m going to spend the next few minutes giving you a snapshot of where the Town stands financially and end with a view towards the Town budget – and taxes – for 2014. It may seem a little odd that we are talking about next year’s budget when many of our neighbouring municipalities have just set their 2013 budget – after the end of the first quarter! But this is just one of many examples that show how Carleton Place is a leader in financial stability and forward-thinking financial management.
Let’s have a look at the auditor’s report for 2012 which was presented to Council in March by Howard Allen who is the auditor for many Eastern Ontario communities. Highlights of the report include the following comments:
• Carleton Place is stronger financially than a year ago
• Net financial assets for the Town improved over the past year
• The Town is stronger in every area of provincial financial indicators:
Amount of debt – The Town currently is using approximately $5.9M to fund major projects such as Sewage treatment Plant upgrades and the new Daycare building, as well as smaller projects including the servicing of Highway 7 businesses and the arena second ice surface. Carleton Place is aggressive in debt repayment.
Debt charges – Our annual payments are much lower than many area municipalities, and we have a strong debt capacity.
Reserve to debt ratio – This ratio is an extremely important facet of Carleton Place’s financial picture. For every dollar of debt, we have two dollars of reserves unlike many municipalities within a 100 km radius whose ratio is exactly the opposite.
• Carleton Place enjoys exemplary long-term planning. The Province now requires 10-year plans; Carleton Place has planned 10, 15, 20 and 25 years in advance for many years.
• The Town continues to enjoy good financial management
Carleton Place taxpayers benefit in a number of ways as a result of:
• sound financial management practices
• long-term planning in all aspects of the corporation
• intelligent and strategic investment in infrastructure; 95% of our 54 km of in-ground infrastructure is newer than 25 years, placing us in the top 20% of Ontario communities.
The Town owns a considerable number of buildings and other infrastructure and is constantly working to maintain and improve the facilities available to community residents. The following is a brief outline of recent upgrades:
Pool – addition with rental facilities/meeting room; family change room
Carambeck Community Centre – former school now houses a Community Centre, Youth Centre,
before and after School Daycare programs, and the TR Leger Alternate School
Arena – nearing the final payments for second ice surface debt; reviewing options for larger
Canoe Club – elevator and air conditioning installed in past 4 years; Town has now taken over
the operations of the Upper Hall allowing Canoe Club volunteers to focus on programs
Train Station – Chamber of Commerce office is rent-free; other areas rented to local businesses
Museum – new roof installed over the portico area
Daycare – state of the art facility now 5 years old
Town Hall – major repointing work begun on exterior
Market Square – new roof will be installed this spring through a partnership with the BIA
Parks and Trails – well-maintained; fully accessible children’s playground in Willoughby Park
Public Works Yard – Repainted – attractively – last year; new fencing and landscaping
Public Works and Parks Fleet – well-maintained; each time vehicle is used, funds are placed in
reserve for replacement
Above- and Below-Ground Infrastructure – 54 km of well-maintained roads, sidewalks, sewer
and water piping
Water and Sewage Treatment Plants – meet or exceed all stringent provincial regulations
In spite of all these positive signs in our economic snapshot of Carleton Place, we do have challenges that we can’t ignore:
• Continued downloading of services from the province; for example, loss of daycare spaces to all-day Kindergarten has cost us a $.5M loss in income; accessibility and drinking water standards are set by the province and we are responsible for carrying them out. What we are seeing with downloading is a measure of the provincial well-being – their debt is being handed down to us to deal with.
• new reporting requirements – for example, fuel and hydro consumption reports for all municipally-owned buildings and vehicles
• OMPF grants to municipality cut by the province, $120 000 last year and more to come
• Increased policing costs – currently more than 1/3 of the entire Town budget, and moving towards 40%
These costs are completely out of the control of the municipality.
So, how do we deal with these factors which are out of our control as well as those in our control and still maintain the high levels of services expected by our taxpayers?
In discussions this past week, staff and Council have identified some possible solutions:
• Cut services, and/or
• Reduce/freeze spending on infrastructure, and/or
• Reduce/freeze spending on operations, and/or
• No new projects for 2 years, and/or
• Use reserves to stabilize tax-rate increases, and/or
• Increase taxes (until growth catches up)
As Council and Staff prepare for the 2014 Budget, these are the decisions we will be facing.
This has been just a brief snapshot of where we are financially and a bit of crystal-ball gazing for next year’s budget. I’ve said it before – but it’s worth repeating – we are very fortunate to have talented, dedicated staff to assist us to make wise decisions that will keep us in a position of strength both for the long and short term.
Did you happen to catch the recent CTV Canada A.M. segment featuring the new Bridge Bistro and Café with owner Bev Appleby? Or how about our own young Jordan McIntosh interviewed and performing on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning just last week? Once again, Carleton Place was spotlighted to the entire region as a community of great people, a great place to live, and a great destination.
And the list goes on … another Up Close and Personal Concert in the Town Hall featuring Lynn Miles, exciting Carleton Place Canadian play-off games at the arena, a Free-Cycle Day at Carambeck Community Centre and the 2013 Electronics Recycling event at the Rona parking lot, and the second annual spectacular Home and Fashion Show in the middle of the month are just a few of the special events happening in April. The same hardworking volunteers who brought us The Winter Carnival in February post daily on the Carleton Place Social Scene Facebook page – check it out for an amazing list of events for everyone in the community.
The Town has so much to offer our residents – quality housing, entertainment, dining and shopping, superior arts and sports events, indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities, topnotch hospital, schools and daycare facilities, and a myriad of service clubs, youth groups, and special interest organizations. Business owners and entrepreneurs, volunteer groups and individuals all contribute to making Carleton Place a thriving, exciting community.
Let’s each of us do our part by supporting, participating, promoting and just getting involved. As Dorothy said, ‘There’s no place like home.’ She must have been talking about Carleton Place!
QUARTERLY REPORT – JANUARY – MARCH, 2013
|Economic Development||Jasmin Ralph, Economic Development Co-ordinator, rolled out the Lead Generation and Business Visits programs at a well-attended breakfast meeting in early February. She represents the Town on the Ontario East Development Corporation; the Town is a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Team for business attraction, part of the OEDC. Ms Ralph responds daily to inquiries from businesses interested in locating in Carleton Place. Mayor LeBlanc is an active member of the Lanark County Council Economic Development Committee. It was announced that Carleton Place will be the headquarters for the W.E.L.L. program from Valley Heartland – Women Entrepreneurs of Lanark and (North) Leeds. The tender for producing the Carleton Place Economic Development Website was awarded to McSweeney and Associates.|
|Redevelopment of Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital Health Hub||Toni Surko, CEO of CPDMH, along with Mayor LeBlanc, Councillor Stirke, and deputy Reeve Mousseau (Beckwith) met with Glenn Murray, Minister of Infrastructure, at the Good Roads Conference in Toronto in February. An announcement concerning next steps in the redevelopment plan is pending.|
|Official Plan and Development Permit Bylaw Review||The final public meeting concerning the Official Plan was held in March; once endorsed by Council, it will be approved by either the Province or the County depending on whether the County’s Official Plan is approved. The Development Permit Bylaw will be updated in the next few months to reflect the changes in the Official Plan.|
|Revitalization of Downtown||Several new businesses opened over the past few months, including a dollar store, a craft store and a photography shop. The revised Façade Improvement Program package was sent to all businesses. An announcement was made that the Mews will have an additional pad built in the near future. The Leslie Block property has been sold and is undergoing renovations to create commercial space on the ground floor and 6 condo units above; creating quality residential units downtown is an essential step in revitalization.|
|Carambeck Community Centre||Carambeck Community Centre continues to be well-booked for community use during the evenings and weekends. Spaces are available during the day between 9 and 3. Mayor LeBlanc, Councillor Probert and Community Co-ordinator, Jessica Smith, joined Patty Lennox in Kingston to view the Kingston Seniors’ Centre; many programs held there can be duplicated here if sufficient interest is shown by the public.|
|Council Transparency and Accountability||Council continues to communicate with the public through press releases, print advertising, slide shows in public buildings, the official town website, social media (Facebook and twitter), an LED display sign at Market Square. Mayor LeBlanc reports monthly in a column courtesy of the EMC Newspaper, and takes part in interviews on the In Focus show on Lake88; past interviews and EMC columns can be heard or read by clicking on media at www.wendyleblanc.ca. Please read Mayor LeBlanc’s article on transparency on her website; this was written in response to a misunderstanding on the part of a resident.|
|Respect for Business Community||Active representation at, and reporting of, Chamber of Commerce and BIA meetings. Council is pleased to welcome new businesses to town. The AGMs of both the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce were attended by members of Council. A ribbon cutting took place at Peas and Pods in March.|
|Other Items Dealt with this Quarter||Mayor LeBlanc delivered her Annual Review in early January; a copy of the speech is available on her website at www.wendyleblanc.ca.The Carleton Place Annual Review of 2012 booklet was sent to all households in the community in January.
Members of staff along with Mayor LeBlanc and Councillors Probert and Strike met with the Minister of Education and the Assistant Deputy Minister at the Good Roads Convention in February. They discussed Daycare Funding and children/teacher ratios which are causing serious financial concerns to daycares throughout the province.
Staff put the final touches on the Waste Management Plan changes effective june 1, 2013. A wide-ranging education program is planned to inform the public of the changes well in advance of the start date.
Members of Council are pleased to continue to support the community by attending and/or participating in a wide-range of events and activities. Bonspiels, the Mudds Youth production of Annie, the annual Bunny Run and two bowl-a-thons were just a few of the many events attended by Council.
The Town Auditor, Howard Allan, once again commended staff and Council for Town’s good financial management.
Council welcomed Miss Teen Lanark County World, Havan Lamothe, and wished her well as she progresses in the competition for Miss Teen Canada.
Council presented Jake and Peggy Gallipeau with the Eleanor Henderson Good Ambassador Award for their 30 years of service to the community as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
Annual reports for both the Water and Water Pollution Control plants showed that the Town met or exceeded all the stringent controls placed by the province to ensure quality, safe drinking water.
Carleton Place was well-represented at the Ottawa Tourism and Travel Show in March with its own booth manned by volunteers The annual tourism guide was produced by the Chamber of Commerce. A first-off Progressive Maple Dinner was held as part of a tourism strategy.
The BIA announced financial support of the project to create a roof on the pavilion at Market Square. A Trillium grant application has also been made to assist with the funding.
Check under the Where’s Wendy tab to read her April schedule.
W.E.L.L. Done in Carleton Place -
Several months ago, after lunch at the Eating Place, I popped in next door to chat with Erica Zwicker of the Floral Boutique. As I still had plenty of time before being due back at the Town Hall, I went to neighbouring business owner Michelle Bedel’s Surrounding Memories, then crossed the street to speak with Janice Martin and Gail Sheen-MacDonald at Wisteria, continued over to Chantal Gervais’ Sunshine’s Then and Now, and finished up at Krista Lee’s Applecheeks. Later in the afternoon I was reflecting on my visits and it suddenly struck me that these businesses were all run by women entrepreneurs! It didn’t take much time for me to realize that a large majority of our BIA’s businesses are owned and run by women – and many of them young women. I followed up with Cathie McOrmond, manager of the BIA, who became equally excited. We both felt strongly that somehow this fact needed to be made public, needed to be recognized and needed to be built upon.
Early in the New Year, I spoke with Susan Fournier, Executive Director of Valley Heartland, a Federal Government Agency that administrates both federal and provincial economic development funding programs. Within 48 hours of the call, Susan, Carleton Place Economic Development Co-ordinator Jasmin Ralph, Cathie McOrmond and I were sitting down talking over how we can assist these entrepreneurs, draw attention to their presence in our community, and make it work for the benefit of both the town and the women. Interestingly, the timing could not have been better as Susan had determined her three areas of focus in the next fiscal year starting in April, and one of them just happened to be creating a program to support female entrepreneurs.
Then, during International Women’s Week, Susan announced the initiative W.E.L.L . – Women Entrepreneurs of Lanark and (North) Leeds – to be headquartered in Carleton Place. The program is essentially a support network with some funding capabilities; established women entrepreneurs will act as mentors to start-up business owners, and will also determine who receives support from the funding pool. As the program is in its early planning stages, details still need to be worked out. Stay tuned!
W.E.L.L. done, once again, Carleton Place!
(For Part 1, see the February 2013 EMC Column)
Call it the domino effect, the snowball effect or the ripple effect, we all know that making even the simplest of decisions can have long-term, far-reaching outcomes. In our municipal world, having a clear understanding of the complexities of a decision depends on having a long-term vision for the community and an in-depth appreciation of all sides of an issue. This is where a Council working hand-in-hand with its Staff can make informed decisions that will be of both present and future benefit to the community as a whole.
Recently, Council was faced with a request to sell municipal property and change the designation of Employment Lands on Hooper Street (formerly known as Industrial Lands) to allow a mixed Residential and Commercial complex. The plan, presented by a local developer, was certainly attractive. However, it would result in the Town having no town-owned land available for industry – a rather peculiar situation, given the fact that we hired an Economic Development Co-ordinator for the express purpose of creating more, and expanding current, employment-generating businesses. Indeed, there is presently a very good supply of privately-owned land available in Carleton Place for residential/commercial complexes without the Town competing with private owners. That said, the Town actually owns property in the downtown core where the proposed mixed residential/commercial development would be welcome. A complex of this sort certainly supports Council’s Downtown Revitalization Plan, and the Town has encouraged the developer to consider this property.
Two members of Council viewed the decision not to change the designation of the Hooper Street lands from Employment Lands to mixed-use Residential as a ‘missed opportunity’. Five members, while acknowledging the attractiveness of the plan, voted to confirm the current land-use plan for the reasons listed above. As one of the majority, I pointed out that the decision is reflective of the vision for the community that we have all supported – that is, that we ensure that development has long-term, lasting benefits for the entire community.
As with any decision, time will tell if it was right. One thing for sure, we will all have our own interpretations and opinions on that as well!
Check out Wendy’s activities for March by clicking on Where’s Wendy tab.