Haldimand County Recruiting for New Youth and Seniors Advisory Committees

Haldimand County is launching two new community engagement opportunities for residents who want to get involved: a Youth Advisory Committee and a Seniors Advisory Committee. These Committees will advise Council about issues and policies that impact the quality of life of youth and seniors in the County.

The Youth Advisory Committee is looking for members from ages 16 to 24 years from across the County, while the Seniors Advisory Committee welcomes interested residents 60 years and older. Both Committees will have ten members and will work with staff to establish a vision and work plan with action steps, timelines and outcomes for each term of Council.

Youth Committee members will act as representatives for the County’s youngest residents, advising on ways to enrich and enhance their health and quality of life. Seniors Committee participants will share information about issues impacting seniors while developing recommendations and action plans to build supports for older adults. Both Committee offer opportunities to make new connections, gain knowledge and skills and make a meaningful contribution to Haldimand County.

Applications will be accepted until August 15, 2021. For more information about the committees, application process, terms of reference or the expectations of members, visit www.haldimandcounty.ca/community-partnerships or contact Andrea Moodie at 905-318-5932 Ext. 6119 or amoodie@haldimandcounty.on.ca.

Haldimand County to Raise Pride Flag to Recognize Pride Month

At the June 7, 2021 meeting, Haldimand County Council voted unanimously to fly the Pride Flag at the Haldimand County Administration Building for the remainder of June in recognition of Pride Month.

“Haldimand County stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and supports diversity, equity and inclusivity,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.

Council also directed staff to review the existing Flag Protocol Policy, which restricts flags flown at County facilities to the Canadian flag, Provincial and Haldimand County flag, for the potential to allow broader recognition practices for important events and to acknowledge the contributions of community groups in the future.

Haldimand County Expands Fleet with Low Speed Electric Vehicles

Haldimand County has added two low speed electric vehicles to its fleet. The two new vehicles will be used for municipal enforcement and building inspection purposes starting this summer, as well as community events and activities.

The vehicles were purchased using Community Vibrancy Funds, which ensures a 0% impact on the tax levy. Operation of the vehicles will be limited to urban areas where speed limits are 50 km/h or less and to cross roads with a speed limit up to 60 km/h as permitted by a Provincial regulation and a recently enacted Haldimand County By-law.

The new vehicles are quiet, sustainable, exhaust-free and environmentally responsible, requiring a standard 110 volt outlet for charging and a range of 60 km per charge. “The County has acquired two vehicles to demonstrate environmental responsibility and to help reduce our carbon footprint,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.

Given the Province’s commitment to new and emerging technologies that can help move people safely, promote transportation modes that are environmentally friendly, reduce air pollution and reliance on conventional fuel, the pilot program will help Haldimand County determine the feasibility of possible future uses.

 

County-wide Broadband Internet Project Update

Since 2019, Haldimand County has been working towards its commitment to bring affordable, reliable high-speed internet service to all residents as part of Council’s top priorities for the 2018-2022 term. In 2020, Haldimand County Council approved a plan to accelerate the delivery of internet services to underserviced areas in Haldimand County through a competitive bid process and provision of an interest-free loan. In June 2020, KWIC Internet was announced as the successful proponent and had begun the process of construction and installation of fibre internet.

Since this time, numerous changes have occurred in the Telecommunications sector, which is governed Federally by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). These changes, including amalgamation, increased grant funding opportunities and new technological opportunities have increased competition in this sector and made servicing rural communities more attractive.

Given this increased competition and the arrival of large, nationally backed service providers in our community, Haldimand County and KWIC Internet have mutually decided to terminate the agreement to facilitate broadband internet service across the County. Recently, Xplornet Communications Inc., through their acquisition of Metro Loop, announced that they intend to offer high-speed, fiber broadband service to over 19,000 homes and businesses throughout the County within two years.

“While local circumstances have changed in terms of how broadband expansion is taking place, Council’s goal of bringing high speed internet to rural communities across Haldimand is expected to be achieved through increased competition in the area resulting in better internet service in a quicker timeframe for our residents and businesses,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.

Haldimand County will continue to monitor the progress of this installation and provide regular updates to Council on the availability and progress.

Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County in black lettering below.

Statement from Mayor Hewitt & Council – May 15, 2021

COVID-19 Update

First, let me apologize to those of you who had tried to contact me in the past few weeks. I was successful in contacting COVID and was in a lethargic fog for approximately 10 days. Fortunately it was a bad head cold and nothing that would have led to me to going to the hospital. I certainly can appreciate however, the effect of this virus on those that may be more vulnerable.

I cannot state for fact that vaccinations will shield you or I from getting COVID with any amount of certainty. I have to place my faith in those that have the skills in the medical field that can make the claims that the benefits far outweigh the risks. While it is everyone right and personal decision to make, just the same it is everyone right to feel safe while enjoying some freedoms that we all long for.

As you all know the Ford Government has extended the provincial stay at home order until June 2nd and while many of us have differing thoughts on that, you must understand that it is not option of the local council to defy the orders and/or encourage businesses to re-open. Like many of you, I do not see the logic behind many things, but like it or not we live in Ontario, not in Florida. Making the comparisons does nothing to getting us open any quicker. Our numbers here in H-N are better than in Toronto, why are we suffering just he same? It does not matter; our numbers may look good, but our ICU capacity is severely affected by the current COVID wave.

Would I like to be golfing or boating; absolutely. I would like to also have dinner at the local restaurants. I want to get there just as quick as you all do and the only way to get the Province to open up is to push the numbers down.

I can only hope and ask that you factor those around you and the businesses that desperately need our full support when choosing whether to get vaccinated or not.

Again, I believe the argument in favour of them far outweighs the arguments against.

Vaccine doses administered so far: 46,205
Number of people completely vaccinated: 5,102

Status updates / information on second doses: 

  • The Health Unit is currently vaccinating eligible individuals in Phase 2 of the province’s rollout framework. Current eligibility details can be found at hnhu.org/covax-eligible.
  • All appointments from May 19 onward may be booked using the provincial tool.
  • Individuals who received their first dose of vaccine prior to April 20 are currently being contacted by the Health Unit to schedule second dose appointments. Second doses are being booked by date of first dose, not by age or group, to ensure they are administered within the 16-week (112 day) timeframe established by the province.
  • If you have not received a phone call from the Health Unit and it is more than 90 days after your first dose, please call the vaccine hotline at 519-427-5903 and leave a message for follow-up.
  • As the province expands eligibility further, there will be an increased demand for vaccine appointments. The Health Unit has requested additional doses in order to meet these demands and expedite community rollout. Clinics continue to run at capacity, and appointments are being added as vaccine supply is received.

Information regarding AstraZeneca vaccine:

  • Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has advised that the Ontario government is reviewing data to consider whether to use AstraZeneca for second doses. The province will be announcing next steps and guidance for people who received AstraZeneca as a first dose.
  • All mass clinic sites in Haldimand and Norfolk are administering the Pfizer vaccine, while participating physicians have been administering Moderna.
  • Individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca at a participating local pharmacy will be contacted regarding next steps once further instruction is provided by the province.

Eligibility and waitlist information:

  • Individuals 40 and above, essential workers in Group 1 and Group 2 and individuals from all other previous groups are currently eligible to book online.
  • Individuals 18+ become eligible across Ontario beginning May 24.
  • The province is finalizing plans to administer both doses of vaccine to youth aged 12 to 17. The province anticipates these vaccinations for youth will be offered from mid-June to the end of August, in collaboration with school boards and other partners.​
  • Waitlists continue to be an integral part of the local vaccine rollout strategy by ensuring unused doses (due to cancellations, no shows, etc) never go to waste and priority populations are receiving their shots as quickly as possible.

 

Caledonia Protest Update

 

OPP continue to make arrests and courts continue to release on conditions. It is frustrating for all those involved. I continue to recommend to Chief Hill and others that the time for a local born solution that sees the end of these kinds of interruptions to our communities is the only path of success that I see an end to. Both the Province and the Feds are overwhelmed with the Pandemic and other issues that unfortunately for us caught up in this dispute are not on the radar and waiting for them to arrive and attempt to solve this dispute in the near future is simply not going to happen.

I don’t believe locally we can solve the overarching ongoing land disputes along the Haldimand tract and elsewhere. That is clearly the function of the Federal government, and the process must be top down driven; but the idea of coming together from the bottom up on shared projects that meet local needs for both communities can enable us to demand more from the Province and the Feds. I have put forth several ideas to all those involved like our fresh lake water solution for Six Nations and I truly believe that it is these kind of plans that will start a tradition of successes for both communities living in the area and breakdown the existing barriers to us finding amicable ways of cohabiting and growing together for the benefits of both our future generations.

Lastly, a quick shout out to Shannon MacPherson-Adams. I wish you all the best and success in getting the stem cell treatment you and everyone so deserves. They are completing their fund-raising awareness ride today in Caledonia and I will be there with many of you cheering them on. For those that would like to help and donate, you can go to their Facebook page called; Shannon’s Plasma Cell Mates.

Stay safe,

Ken

Statement from the Mayor & Council RE: public boat launches

Due to the recent lockdown and stay at home orders, the decision to close the county owned ramps were made.   I know that this frustrates many people and with every other decision made throughout this pandemic, you can shoot holes through them and find very good rationale to argue for and against.

So why close the ramps? While it is true is that many local people here fish and enjoy the amenities of the ramps along the grand river and Lake Erie, so do many from other parts of the Province.  In fact if you ask many of the residents of Port Maitland they can support the argument that the pier, ramp and park is a very public tourist destination. There are no amenities for these people and so garbage, feces and just about anything else lands on either public property or surrounding private property that obviously is upsetting for those homeowners.

There are privately run ramps that serve the public and offer the amenities needed to accept guests and locals.  Access to both waterways is available at a marginal cost and it helps the local private marina or business.

In comparison to golf, while my opinions differ from the Province on many of the COVID rules, most golfers are actually local, and privately run golf clubs possess the staff to keep outdoor facilities cleaned for their patrons. Public ramps just simply do not.

Today we are experiencing the 3rd wave of this virus and while it may seem like it is not evident here in HN, we are not immune to the very real affects of the variants that are pushing the numbers to all time highs. I understand that we are all VIRUS fatigued and frankly had enough but for the health and welfare of the communities, the small sacrifice of closing public boat ramps is a small price to pay for a couple of weeks to flatten and/or to know that we have done everything possible to keep our hospitals free and clear to help our loved ones.

We are currently working with the county staff and those that run private boat ramps to ensure that our local fishing population has some options available to them and so they can enjoy their pastime and be able to fish.

Stay safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

Statement from the Mayor & Council – April 7, 2021

COVID-19 Update

I know that many of you are frustrated. We all share these sentiments and a while ago I said that trying to make sense of decisions made in this pandemic will only drive you more insane. We have tackled this pandemic over the past year with resilience, determination, respect and with the moral conduct that defines the character of those living here in Haldimand-Norfolk. That said, I can appreciate that everyone is nearing their breaking points.

We cannot control many of the decisions or choices made but we can embrace and celebrate the small successes along the way. Currently we are at approx. 25% of the overall population of HN vaccinated (at least 1 dose) and we should soon see groups over 60 be welcomed to the clinics. We are, as a percentage, ahead of most areas in Ontario. We are hoping that the Province will soon be able to furnish us with more vaccines, which will allow us to expand the sites into medical offices and pharmacies beyond what is available today. All in an effort to get to the finish line of vaccinating everyone who so chooses.

It is our understanding that the Province will once again take a further step to flatten the growing curve of COVID cases and will be issuing more orders this week.   We continue to express the concerns of our business owners the impact that these decisions have on them and that we believe there are different approaches that could be taken to achieve the outcomes they are looking for but also balance the needs of our small businesses.

Caledonia Protest Update

As many of you would think, things may seem to be quiet on this, at least in terms of visibility. I can tell you that there are many still working and trying to move things forward. Recently on Six Nations there were a few deaths within the families of the Confederacy and so some meetings have been delayed. I recently had a phone conversation with the Premier and shared with him some thoughts on how he could, from the Provincial level, take a leadership role in this and not to wait for the Feds but to help us along with Six Nations in forcing the Feds to engage. While it is the Feds who ultimately will resolve the long standing claim, it is the Province and us locally, who can find shared successes. It is these successes for the broader communities that will push those who continue to aggravate rather than to build, those that serve the few rather than the greater good of all. I will be meeting with Chief Hill soon to discuss our next steps and how we can play a role in supporting him with his efforts to get Six Nations to buy into his leadership and his ability to make a difference.

Nuisance Bylaw 

Over the past couple of years, there have been occasions here in Haldimand where people felt the need to push an agenda publicly beyond it being a message. While we feel that all groups despite their religion or background, should have the right to exercise their freedoms, we also believe that those such as business owners have the same rights to enjoy the public space they share in a way that does not infringe on one another. We believe there is a line for all of us to adhere to and level of respect that is applied in our actions as to how they may affect those around us. When people, usually outsiders of our communities come with an agenda that crosses that line, we now have a bylaw that, with the aid of the OPP, we can enforce.

Many people and businesses asked for this and while it not black and white, it is better than what we had in the past. We are not targeting any particular group or culture, or sector but we are targeting the actions of any person or persons that cross that line and would only ask that you guide yourself like the many good people of this community and this bylaw will not been required.

2021 Budget

Just recently we passed the 2021 budget for Haldimand. I cannot say enough about the strength of the staff working for you here in Haldimand. As Council we continue to put many pressures and demands on them and they continue to meet them and stay within the the budget parameters as prescribed. Our goal is to maintain increases with cost of living. A zero percent increase is not sustainable and you do not have to look far to see how well that works. We believe that a 2% annual increase is status quo and good financial planning. This year our increase comes in at 1.96%.

Many of you will see larger increases in your taxes but you understand that it is not the increase in taxes but the increase in your property assessment that may drive that number higher than you may expect. We all know in these times property values have increased substantially and so it my cause your taxes to move more than others. Aside from that I believe a 1.96% increase in a year with so many uncontrollable expenses and is a responsible and sensitive budget and in comparison to our peers, I would argue that it is better than most.

Stay safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

Haldimand County Council Approves 2021 Tax-Supported Operating Budget

On March 31, 2021, Haldimand County Council reviewed and approved the 2021 Tax Supported Operating Budget. The budget results in a total levy requirement of $72,553,300, which equates to a residential tax impact of about 1.96%, or about $5.35 per month for an average residential property owner with an assessed value of approximately $279,000.

Generally, the annual Tax Supported Operating Budget pays for day to day operations of the County, including salaries, wages, utilities, insurance and services such as running arenas/programming, maintaining locals parks and cemeteries, providing emergency services (fire, police and ambulance), the collection of garbage and related activities.

“The 2021 Tax-Supported Operating Budget represents a financially sustainable, responsive plan that ensures the continued delivery of essential services our communities value,” said Haldimand County Chief Administrative Officer Craig Manley. “Despite significant financial challenges related to COVID-19 and other unforeseen circumstances, staff have developed an operating budget that comes in below Council’s targeted tax rate increase of 2% or less,” Manley added.

Manley noted that Provincial funding received to date combined with significant cost-containment measures undertaken in 2020 (e.g. limiting hiring and effectuating mandatory leaves for some staff during Provincial lockdowns) have helped alleviate the tax burden.

The 2021 Tax-Supported Operating Budget highlights several investments in municipal service delivery, including:

  • organizational and staffing initiatives to enhance customer service and communications
  • proceeding with internal, technology-focused projects that will improve access to public-facing services, increase efficiencies and strengthen cybersecurity
  • hiring additional building & by-law staff to facilitate enforcement and ensure the continuation of timely permit approvals
  • hiring additional staff to address growth-related needs associated with winter control and environmental operations
  • providing temporary project management resources to expedite major Corporate priority initiatives (e.g. Broadband Internet Project, Caledonia Fire Hall, Norfolk County/Six Nations water supply initiative).

“This was an extremely difficult budget to develop under ever-changing pressures and circumstances. Staff have worked hard to bring forward a reasonable, fiscally responsible budget that addresses community needs and upholds the levels of service our residents have come to expect,” noted Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.

On average, a residential property owner can expect their annual property taxes to be allocated as follows:

More information on County budgets and budget processes is available on the County website via HaldimandCounty.ca/financials/budgets.

Haldimand and Norfolk Counties Commemorate 1 Year Since Declaration of COVID-19 Emergencies

On March 24, 2020, Haldimand and Norfolk counties officially declared emergencies due to COVID-19. To recognize this pivotal day and acknowledge the challenges of the past year, both counties will lower flags at administration facilities for the duration of Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

“It is important to recognize the hard work and dedication that has gone in to the local fight against COVID-19 over the past 12 months, by County staff, the Health Unit, frontline workers and the community as a whole,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “Flags lowered symbolize the extraordinary efforts put forward by the community, the many challenges faced and the hurdles we’ve overcome,” Hewitt noted.

Both mayors acknowledged the tireless work of staff, frontline workers and community members who contributed the local COVID-19 response – by way of planning for and implementing public health strategies, keeping vulnerable community members safe, volunteering, donating supplies and adhering to public health guidelines.

“COVID-19 has affected all of us in different ways. It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve all had to make sacrifices to keep our community safe. Because of these collective efforts, we are in a position today where the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Our staff and the entire community deserve a huge thanks for stepping up and doing everything possible to keep the virus at bay,” said Norfolk County Mayor/Chair of the Board of Health Kristal Chopp.

Haldimand and Norfolk counties will continue working collaboratively with public health to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and facilitate mass vaccinations in line with the Province’s rollout framework.

For more information on the local response to COVID-19, including community vaccination rollout, visit HNHU.org.

 

Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County in black lettering below.

Haldimand County Council approves 2021 Tax-Supported Capital Budget

Haldimand County Council reviewed and approved the 2021 Tax Supported Capital Budget on March 4, 2021. The Tax-Supported Capital Budget outlines $40.1 million of infrastructure investment in 2021, with a total tax-supported infrastructure investment of $274.5 million over the next 10 years. In total, 302 new tax-supported capital projects have been scheduled for the 2021 calendar year.

The 2021 Capital Budget is heavily focused on infrastructure renewal with notable expenditures in areas such as roadway improvements, bridge and culvert rehabilitation and enhancements to corporate, community and recreation facilities.

2021 Capital Budget Highlights:

  • $21.5 million towards roadway and active transportation improvements such as paving, reconstruction, resurfacing, gravel road conversion, sidewalk/curb replacements and street lighting as well as bridge repairs, bridge rehabilitation and other structure-related projects (such as culvert replacements)
  • $3.5 million towards the replacement/expansion of the Caledonia Fire Station
  • $1.89 million towards the replacement/expansion of the Caledonia Paramedic Services Base
  • $3.9 million in facility upgrades at Grandview Lodge
  • $3.1 million towards community partnership projects and enhancements to parks, trails, arenas, pools, museums and libraries
  • $700,000 towards tree conservation and reforestation initiatives

In recent years the County has deliberately increased its investment in capital to ensure that existing facilities are updated, new facilities desired by the community are added and that a funding plan is in place to minimize tax impacts. Money is set aside every year to ensure that when assets need repairs or replacing, funding is available.

“The 2021 Capital Budget balances current priorities with future needs and further positions Haldimand for growth. Through diligent asset management practices and financial planning principles, staff have developed a budget that ensures our strong financial position is maintained, and our residents and business owners continue to receive high quality programs and services,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “We, like many other municipalities, have faced significant financial pressures as a result of COVID-19, and I am proud of the capital program we have developed under such unprecedented circumstances.”

Similar to past years, the capital levy, funded by property taxes, will increase by about $698,000, or about 1% of the overall municipal levy. The total municipal levy for 2021 will be determined once the 2021 Tax Supported Operating Budget is approved by Council.

The 2021 Tax Supported Operating Budget will be presented to Council on the following dates:

• March 31 & April 1*, 2021 – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Haldimand County Administration Building Council Chamber (*if required)

More information on Haldimand County budgets can be found at HaldimandCounty.ca/Financials/Budgets/.

 

Haldimand County logo. A yellow sun rising or setting atop green and blue waves. Haldimand County in black lettering below.

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