The County of Haliburton has found a consultant that will take over the development of its controversial shoreline bylaw.

Council agreed May 12 to award Bracebridge-based Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd. the contract after a request-for-proposals process. It will cost the County $41,605 plus taxes, the middle price of three bids received.

The company will be tasked with a scientific literature review, a scan of other municipalities with shoreline protection legislation, and a public consultation. It will also produce a new draft bylaw for council to consider. Coun. Andrea Roberts thanked staff for bringing the proposal forward.

“We should be proud. We’ve listened and we wanted to have an independent third-party consultant guide us through this process,” Roberts said. “A year ago, at this time, we were really stuck with what to do next and I have a lot of faith in this process.”

The County’s draft bylaw has attracted pushback for more than a year. It would restrict development within 30 metres of shorelines, with some criticizing it as too far-reaching. But environmental groups and lake associations have pushed for new rules as important to protect lake health. The County opted to table the bylaw in January to hire a consultant.

In terms of public consultation, the RFP said the proponent would provide a report about feedback. The public process would include themes of policy objectives, scientific research, permit management and compliance. CAO Mike Rutter said council could still discuss and direct what the consultation will be like.

“We believe, again, from the team perspective, there is all kinds of capacity to deliver a good product in a timely way,” Rutter said.

He added although the work plan originally featured a June completion date, he was unsure if that could still be met. But he was confident staff could come “close.”

The scientific literature review will include specific attention paid to setbacks from the high-water mark and minimum recommended areas of naturalization.

The other proposed bids were $27,900 and $45,337. An evaluation team examined factors beyond price such as experience, methodology and schedule.

“I was really and truly impressed with the team of staff that were working on it,” Warden Liz Danielsen, part of the evaluation group, said. “It was a good process.”

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