Tiny houses, the long-term future of Stanhope Municipal Airport and investments in the local fire department were all key focuses as Algonquin Highlands council identified some of its main projects and priorities for 2023.

A six-hour debate spanning two meetings Dec. 8 and Dec. 12 saw the township’s elected officials consider a variety of proposals brought forward by municipal staffers.

CAO Angie Bird was first up, calling on council to adopt a new strategic plan in 2023.

“That’s something I’ve been advocating for a long time,” said mayor Liz Danielsen. Council directed staff to put out an RFP to hire a consultant, aiming to kickstart talks by August.

A new airport development plan will also be established. Danielsen said it was important that the airport “not be seen as a liability, but instead be brought back into the black (profitable).” Public works manager Adam Thorn said there will be two significant projects at the airport in 2023 – a new floor design for the main hangar and emergency runway and taxiway lighting upgrades, ensuring the facility remains lighted in the event of a power outage.

Communications coordinator Chad Ingram said a new municipal website will go live in April, making it easier for the public to access information and engage with the municipality.

The building and bylaw department will focus on wrapping up the township’s fiveyear septic reinspection program and asked that council consider implementing a new Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

“That would transfer bylaw disputes from the courtroom to the municipality,” said bylaw officer Greg Moore. “Any tickets that would typically go to the Lindsay court system could be dealt with at the township office… it would save a lot of travel time and time in the courtroom for staff.”

Planner Sean O’Callaghan said he’d like council to endorse a plan to bring development charges online in Haliburton County for new builds, while briefly touching on the possibility of adjusting municipal bylaws to permit tiny homes. Danielsen said this was one of the main issues brought up during the municipal election, and that council needed to have an open mind if it’s to address the community’s growing housing problem.

Fire chief Mike French asked that council invest in some new uniforms for the fire department, with the replacement of four portable defibrillator units, a new ATV to help members respond to off-road emergencies and training for swift water rescue and backwoods rescue also high on his list of wants. French said council also needed to start planning for the eventual replacement of the fire hall in Dorset.

Chris Card said there are lots of projects planned for the parks, recreation, and trails department this year. He requested a new lightning strike protection system be installed at the Dorset Tower, reconstruction of the Stanhope tennis courts, and outlined plans to restore the Fletcher, Crozier and Russell boat launch sites.

Briefing council on several roads projects, Thorn said just over four kilometres of Elmar Road and North Shore Road will receive slurry seal treatment, with double surface treatments scheduled for Saskatchewan Lake, Jones, Dominion, Milwood, Three Brothers and Hewitt roads. Sections of McPhail, Butter Milk Falls and Shangria roads will also be repaired.

Thorn said he’s also hoping to bring back a plan for green burials – approved by council last summer.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and a lot of decisions for us to make,” Danielsen said. “I look forward to having some good discussions during our budget talks.”