With 50 people attending their firstever town hall meeting this past Saturday in Haliburton, Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts and Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy said they hope to have another in the spring – and twoa-year going forward in their terms of office.
The public packed the 2-4 p.m. session Nov. 28, asking about a range of issues including: landfills; the County’s shared services review; the need for electric vehicle recharging stations; heavy traffic on the County Road 21 corridor just outside of the village; road deterioration at snowmobile crossings; the future of Head Lake Park; housing; the prospect of municipal water and roads in general.
Businessman Jerry Walker asked about the possibility of a single-tier government for the County.
Roberts said County staff and councillors were keeping an open mind, and by hiring a professional consultant, would make decisions based on facts, not emotion.
With landfills, Roberts said challenges, such as landfills reaching end of life, and decisions about where waste will go in future, are Countywide. She said they need the help of the province. She noted Coun. Walt McKechnie has for years lobbied for incinerating of garbage. Dysart et al has requested the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) look into researching the idea on behalf of all townships across the province. Kennedy added that they are big items and with 6,500 Dysart residents, “we can’t afford what needs to be done.”
One resident said with electric vehicles becoming more prevalent due to concerns about climate change, Dysart could make itself a tourism destination by putting in car charging stations. Kennedy said it’s definitely “on the radar” and would be discussed, including around the Head Lake Park master plan. Roberts added the units are not cheap and would have to be operated at cost recovery.
As for traffic along County Rd. 21, Roberts said Dysart et al, and the County, are looking into ways to calm the traffic, including a future pedestrian crosswalk.
Kennedy added that townships are now looking into the possibility of development charges, which would give municipalities more money from developers to do work. The two councillors said they’d also like to look at traffic in the downtown and Roberts said she would bring concerns to the next meeting mayors have with the OPP.
As for the park, Roberts reiterated they are working on a master plan as the park “is like a 40-year-old house in need of renovations”. She said they are already holding talks with stakeholders.
With housing, Kennedy said he thought it was prudent to identify properties owned by the township and approach developers “to find out what they can do to get things rolling.” He noted that Dysart had 296 properties of various sizes. Roberts said the County had committed to 750 units over the next 10 years. She said its achievable “if we all work together.”
Both Roberts and Kennedy said they were happy with the outcome of the town hall.
“This has been great,” Kennedy said. Roberts added they were hoping to have a positive conversation and felt that was achieved.
“We’re here to get ideas from you, and let you know what we’re working on.”