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.

Statement from Mayor Hewitt & Council RE: local COVID-19 situation, Caledonia protest

Statement from Mayor Hewitt & Council – March 3, 2021

COVID-19 Update

I know that many of you are anxious and frustrated about the information surrounding the vaccines. It is a very fluid situation and the news around vaccines and its rollouts have changed almost daily.

We have been working hard with the Health Unit to ensure that when the larger rollout of vaccines are available to the general public. We will be ready. A lot of work and planning has gone in behind the scenes to respond to the needs of our communities.

The challenge is communicating to all of you what is happening. By the time I post this, I am sure that there will be another change brought to us by the Feds or the Province. In any event, I assure you that the effectiveness of our rollout program will not be because we are not ready but will be due primarily to things out of our control such as supplies of vaccinations or decisions made from outside of the region.

I have received many questions regarding the rollout and through time I am sure there will be many more. But for now I have copied what I think are the most pertinent points. As information becomes available, we will do our best to pass it on to all of you.

Key stats

Vaccine doses administered so far: 5,885

Number of people completely vaccinated: 1,573

Vaccines for those 80 and over

Haldimand and Norfolk’s Vaccine Task Force is preparing to vaccinate up to 5,000 people against COVID-19 in the coming weeks as area vaccination efforts start to ramp up

In line with the Province’s vaccination framework, vaccines are now available to those 80 years of age and older.

In addition to clinics already running at Norfolk General Hospital and the Vittoria Community Centre, the clinic at the Dunnville Lifespan Centre will move to Cayuga Memorial Arena this weekend, vaccinating up to 1,000 people per day.

Additional Health Unit-run clinics will be opened in the coming weeks.

Making an appointment

Family doctors will be in touch with patients 80 years of age and older to discuss vaccination plans and facilitate the appointment booking process.

Do NOT call your doctor, the Health Unit or area hospitals to book an appointment.

A vaccination appointment booking process is being developed for those without a family doctor or whose doctor is outside of Haldimand and Norfolk – details to come.

Questions about vaccines

The Health Unit has launched a dedicated COVID-19 vaccine phone line and email address for questions about vaccinations

519-427-5903

vaccine@hnhss.ca

The phone line and email address are NOT for booking vaccinations.

 

Caledonia Protest Update

I am sure that you all are appreciative that the roads have now been opened up and that traffic can now move along without any intervention. I am grateful to the community of Six Nations, who stood up against the anarchy of these individuals and demanded that they remove the barricades. It’s a shame that when the protestors state they act by consensus, no one takes them to task that consensus was not apparent when they chose to block roads and destroy property in they way they did.

In any event, there is ongoing dialogue with leaders on Six Nations along with representatives of the Province and Feds. Due to COVID, meetings have not taken place in the capacity that all would like which has delayed things. That said, I remain hopeful that we will be able to resolve some of these outstanding issues and we can arrive at a solution that will benefit all living in Haldimand and Six Nations.

Haldimand County will still continue to hold anyone accountable for contradicting the injunction issued by the judge and fully expects that all those attending the site or involved in destruction of property will be held to the fullest extent of the law.

Yesterday, a dangerous individual, Alex Huntert was once again arrested for breaking his conditions and bail, and today once again our courts have released him on new and more conditions. Not only should we expect more from the senior decision makers of the OPP, we should demand more from our legal system. What message is being sent when time and time again, these individuals can be brought in front of the justice, to only be released so they can breach the very same conditions they keep getting arrested for? Enough is enough and we all must demand more from the Province, to put more accountability and teeth into our legal system.

Stay Safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

 

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Statement from Mayor Hewitt & Council – February 16, 2021

Statement from Mayor Hewitt & Council – February 16, 2021

COVID-19 Update 

Today marks the day that Haldimand-Norfolk opens back up in the ‘orange’ level. Like many of you, I am excited to see this happen and I am hoping that our local businesses can quickly get back to their full production prior to COVID.

I ask you all to consider local businesses before you venture out to the city to shop. Every dollar spent in Haldimand is considerable to those that have had to endure the most difficult times. That said, I am encouraged by the ways our business owners have changed their models to adapt to this new way of life.

We are currently preparing for the rollout of 1000s of vaccines and it is our hope to have the Cayuga Arena ready in the next couple of weeks for mass vaccinations as they arrive.

As many of you know, the date of vaccinations are a moving target and we are at the mercy of other levels of government. It is our belief that those communities most vulnerable and most ready will be of the first to receive the required vaccines. Haldimand’s population is an older one, therefore, more vulnerable, so we will be ready.

Why the Cayuga Arena? There are many factors that were considered and like everything else in this pandemic, it does not always make sense to individuals but does to the whole County. We needed a large venue with several distinct rooms. We needed a central location and the impact although it inconveniences some, is the least intrusive of all other centres. Staff made the decision, putting public health ahead of everything else.

 

Caledonia Protest Update

As many of you know, the remaining blockades have been lifted by the protestors and we are currently on site trying to repair the extensive damages done by these individuals. It is our hope later this week or next to fully re-open the roads, however, this is dependent on the weather and availability of material.

While I am encouraged by this latest progress, let’s not forget that these roads should never have been closed in the first place. Like it or not, a judge made a ruling and the OPP have an obligation to follow through on such a ruling. To suggest that roads are being closed to protect people against the violence of the OPP is completely absurd.

While the OPP have failed miserably in the application of the injunction and their inability to manage this situation, they are not guilty of violence. Let me state when referencing the OPP, it is always in the context of those making the decisions – not those on the ground.

Speaking of failure, I remind you of the current situation of our court system and the judges within. How can it be possible to have one judge grant us an injunction and other judges to simply release the people arrested for crimes and not hold them accountable for their poor decisions.

You may recall Alex Huntert who was arrested and released on conditions. No surprise he has broken those conditions and is currently wanted for breach. All indications would suggest that he is hiding somewhere within Six Nations and it is our hope that both Six Nations police and the OPP will get this individual off of our local streets soon. Maybe this time our courts will treat him with the same level of respect he has given to date.

In conversations with the Chief of Six Nations, I am encouraged by his efforts to bring leaders on Six Nations together. I am excited that there is a genuine will to put forth a plan to meet with the Federal government. Ultimately, this is truly the progress to get excited about. It is time for those that have aggravated the situation to get out of the way of these good hearted individuals seeking progress and success for the whole of Six Nations, not the self serving ideology that always handicaps their community.

As a County that abuts the territory, it is our goal to work with all of those involved in putting a forth a plan that brings both success and harmony for all.   Haldimand continues to look forward to the day where dialogue can happen about mutual needs such as fresh drinking water, roads and bridges, and most of all meeting the increasing health demands of our respective communities – all of which can be achieved for the betterment of both Haldimand and Six Nations. A stark contrast from standing on a road in utter defiance bringing nothing but stalemate and resentment.

Stay safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

 

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 Water And Wastewater Budget

On January 26, 2021, Haldimand County Council reviewed and approved the 2021 Rate-Supported Capital and Operating Budget. Otherwise known as the Water & Wastewater Budget, it is an important strategic document that ensures reliable, safe, clean and affordable potable water is available to residents across the County. New water & wastewater rates take effect on February 1, 2021.

This Rate-Supported Budget deals exclusively with water and wastewater treatment initiatives & is funded directly by user rates (with no support from property taxes). With a number of key infrastructure projects on the horizon – including major upgrades to Caledonia’s water and wastewater systems with a significant portion of the costs being covered by development charges – the average residential, combined water & wastewater user will see a slight increase of about .37¢ (0.4%) on their average monthly bill.

Haldimand’s water & wastewater rates remain below the provincial average due to ongoing strategic planning efforts and diligent asset management practices. In the long-term, rates are expected to remain stable due to a comprehensive, long-term infrastructure maintenance/rehabilitation schedule and a projected increase in user growth.

The budget emphasizes that provincial legislation has the ability to significantly impact municipal operations. As such, senior staff will continue to monitor the political environment & lobby against changes that may impact the affordability of water rates in Ontario.

Council will next review the Tax-Supported Operating & Capital Budgets on the following dates:

Tax-Supported Capital Budget: March 4, 2021 & March 5, 2021* (*if required)

Tax-Supported Operating Budget: March 31, 2021 & April 1, 2021* (*if required)

More information about 2021 budget deliberations will be shared closer to the scheduled meeting dates. Due to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation, it has not yet been determined whether the meetings will be hosted in-person or virtually.

More information about County budgets is available at HaldimandCounty.ca/financials.

 

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 on the local COVID-19 situation – Jan 10

COVID-19 Update

First of all, Happy New Year to all of you. I hope that you had a great holiday season given the circumstances. I am excited that 2021 will be a different year and that ultimately it will be the year remembered as us turning the corner on this virus and conquering it in a way that we can all resume those loved activities that many of us look so forward to, such as travel, recreational sports, weddings and other social gatherings.

But first at this time, it has become quite clear that the second wave of the virus is/will be worse than the first. We are seeing an increase in numbers that are putting a significant strain on our hospitals. We have some short term hurdles to overcome before the light at the end of the tunnel becomes clearer.

I must say, we in Haldimand-Norfolk have taken the approach of managing this COVID with the respect that it deserved. For that, our experience and numbers have been better than many other places in Ontario. Unfortunately, we are within the boundaries of the most populated area of the Country, let alone the Province, and so we will be a part of the next steps the Ford government takes to prevent the further spread of this virus. In the coming days further restrictions will be forthcoming and it will have an affect on us all.

While I cannot begin to imagine all nor explain here the tolls that this pandemic has had on each of our residents and businesses, I am aware of many personal circumstances, and no one situation is more dire than the other. Whether it is the kids missing out on quality education, or graduates having little to no job opportunities, or small businesses forced to shut down. Our elders in retirement homes with no connection to families or friends; our first responders working day and night with little to no rest in between. The examples go on and on.

I continue to ask where possible: help a friend, help a neighbour, help your local business, be a positive beacon for those around you. Misery loves company and yet it serves nothing but more anxiety.

For those of you that have fear, know you are are part of loving and compassionate community.  Our community is second to none when it comes to helping our people out. I truly believe that within us all we have the capacity to ensure that no one is left alone in this difficult time. My cup is half full and I see the promise of a much better future for Haldimand-Norfolk and I hope that you can help share that message.

Stay safe,

Ken Hewitt

Update on Caledonia protest coming soon..

 

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Statement from Mayor Hewitt and Council regarding COVID-19, Caledonia protest

COVID-19 Update

Yesterday I was on a conference call with the Premier and several Ministers discussing the rollout of the COVID vaccine for all of Ontario. There will be 3 phases to this rollout and the first phase will focus on the most vulnerable and emergency services personnel. The first phase will take place in the first quarter of 2021.

The second phase, which will include the more general population, is expected to begin in early April and will be distributed to those that choose to get vaccinated. The third phase will ultimately follow the same protocols as the current flu vaccinations and will likely be available sometime in the fall of 2021.

This rollout is unprecedented and I assure you that there will be growing pains. There are still many questions and processes to answer and to determine, but it is exciting that the conversation of a vaccine is now taking place.

While I appreciate that today it is still frustrating for many of you, your patience and endurance is why we are, as a percentage of population versus positive tests, one of the best in the country and in the world. That is no exception here in Haldimand-Norfolk. That all rests with all of you who have taken the steps to protect yourself and to protect those around you.

With Christmas around the corner, many are faced with the challenges of managing family gatherings and as in the past, we simply ask that you make the decisions that best protect your self, your family, and your community.

There appears to be light at the end of this and it has become visible; here’s hoping to getting there.

Caledonia Protest Update

While it may not seem like much is happening as we continue to deal with these blockades, I can tell you that there have been many meetings, conversations and exchanges with all parties involved.

Let me first say that I fully support anyone’s right to protest or to assemble, but destruction of property and the closure of roads crosses that line. When someone exercises their rights at the expense of another’s, it is my opinion they have gone too far.

For that reason the County has sought an injunction and will continue to stand behind that injunction until there is a definitive agreement between those that will demonstrate these occurrences will no longer happen. Caledonia and Haldimand cannot continue to be the sacrificial lamb for anyone who wants to come down here and demonstrate for a cause.

Over the past couple of weeks Councillor Lawrence and I have met with Skyler Williams to discuss plans moving forward. I have met with Chief Mark Hill and I have discussed at length concerns and plans with Minister Greg Rickford.

I continue to have ongoing dialogue with the OPP and while this injunction does hang over them and the expectation to re-open these roads are a must, it is with the most delicate and peaceful approach that everyone wants to see said roads open.

Nobody is advocating for a confrontation and no one wants to see any violence occur as a result from one. It is that very reason that is motivating everyone to move as quick as possible, (which I know is not quick enough for many of you).

I firmly believe that there are some real solutions here and some real opportunities for the Province, Haldimand and Six Nations. The Feds/Province share my optimism and they are prepared to take the next steps with Six Nations and are only waiting for them to assemble in a way that they can be represented with the expected transparency from the territory.

Patience, while I know is thin for so many reasons, is what is being asked of us from those involved. Since at the County level, we have the most at stake and the least to affect change with, we are at the whims of those very people and we must listen to all the voices who have been directly or indirectly affected in this ongoing protest on both sides.​

Stay Safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

 

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

County-Wide Broadband Internet Project Moving Forward, Network Construction Timelines Announced

Since 2019, Haldimand County has been working to secure a vendor capable of delivering high-speed internet to all under-serviced areas within the community. In June 2020, KWIC Internet was announced as the successful proponent and network construction planning is currently underway.

In the months ahead, Haldimand County staff and KWIC project leaders will be working closely to coordinate the installation of necessary infrastructure, including fibre trenching. KWIC will also be facilitating community consultations to determine the best placement for fixed wireless towers. Public consultation notices will be delivered to initial project build areas throughout December 2020.

Fibre construction is expected to begin in mid-late January 2021 (weather permitting) and wireless tower construction in early February 2021 (also weather permitting). Based on these timeframes, it is anticipated that services for homes and businesses in the western part of Haldimand County will start becoming available during the first half of 2021.

As network construction progresses and the project moves forward, KWIC and Haldimand County will keep residents informed of more area-specific timelines. Over the project’s 5-year timeframe, broadband services will be made available to all of Haldimand County’s under-serviced areas (areas that do not have access to unlimited broadband internet with minimum download/upload speeds of 50/10 Mbps).

“We are very excited to see this project get off the ground and look forward to working with residents and stakeholders to deliver safe, efficient, industry-leading services that empower Haldimand County to connect like never before,” said Mark Rapley, KWIC Internet’s Director of Operations.

Bringing broadband internet to rural communities is one of Council’s top priorities for the 2018-2022 term. “Council is extremely pleased to see this critically important initiative move forward. It is especially welcome news given the rapid digital shift we’ve seen over the past few months and the increasing need for individuals, families and businesses to have reliable, affordable internet,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.

All project-related information is available at HaldimandCounty.ca/broadband and updates will be posted here regularly.

 

Statement from Mayor Ken Hewitt & Council regarding local COVID-19 situation, Caledonia protest

COVID

Haldimand County did not extend its face mask bylaw because the Provincial order with respect to wearing face masks takes precedence and so there was no need to overlap with another bylaw that would only cause confusion. Haldimand County respects the Provincial orders and fully subscribes to the face mask rules as outlined by them.

As we are seeing numbers increase in the surrounding areas, I implore you all to be vigilant in social distancing and wearing masks where appropriate. You are doing your part and you are making a difference. Particularly for our most vulnerable, including our small businesses that we wish to remain open throughout this difficult time. Currently under the new tiered system we are green and let’s keep that way.

CALEDONIA PROTEST

Who has registered ownership of the lands at 1535 McKenzie?

Foxgate Developments Inc., a development company jointly owned by Losani Homes and Ballantry Homes, has held legal title to the McKenzie Lands now for five years. There has never been any claim made by any indigenous group against the title to the lands. The history is that in 1835 and 1841 the McKenzie Lands were surrendered by the Six Nations to the Federal Crown, which sold them via Crown Grant in 1853 to Thomas Nicholls. The Federal Crown grant and patent form a certified a root of ownership. Continuously from 1853 until today, the McKenzie lands were owned, occupied, and sold to third party residents and farmers without any claims registered against title. In 2006 the Province of Ontario certified the title giving “Fee Simple Absolute Title” to the previous owner that sold the property to Foxgate.

Are the lands at 1535 approved for development?

Yes. The lands were approved for development in 2003 by the County of Haldimand. In 2006 the lands were designated as a Growth Plan Area for Development.  In 2015 Foxgate Developments resurrected the 2003 approvals and had them fully re-approved by the County in 2017.  In 2019 the County approved the site servicing (roads, sewers and watermains), and in July when the protests began, the site was almost fully serviced. In August 2020 the Province reviewed its Growth Plan and included 1535 McKenzie Road (and all of Haldimand County that is not on the Reserve) in its up to date Growth Plan for Development shown below. To be clear, except for the Six Nations Reserve which straddles the Brant-Haldimand border, none of the “Haldimand Tract” lands are held back from being “Growth Plan Area”.  The Province fully encourages growth and development in the Haldimand Tract.

 Why did Haldimand County approve the development?

For the same reasons that development is approved in the Haldimand Tract everywhere else such as Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford etc.

In good faith, Haldimand County  — through its notification agreement with Six Nations – was very transparent regarding this plan and every other plan in Haldimand. Why would we assume that after a legal binding agreement with the Band Council signed and accepted anything would prevent this from happening? In fact, we were encouraged by the very agreement that this was a positive step forward in working with Six Nations. It was by no means to suggest that the value of the land was such as they already paid millions for it and it was by no means to suggest that the real claim in front of the Feds was diminished by this agreement. It was simply to recognize that the ongoing issues with our Nations were still in court.

Why don’t we just freeze development?

You cannot simply just stop development for many reasons. It takes many yeas and dollars for developments like this to become real. There has to be some reliance on the planning process for these companies to secure financing for these projects. As a tax payer you rely on development to keep your taxes relatively low. Without development you can add approximately 3% to your annual tax rates.   Every municipality needs growth to pay for the needs and wants of those living within.

 

Stay Safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

 

Haldimand County Face Covering By-Law Will Not Be Extended In Light Of Stricter, Provincially-Mandated Regulations

Haldimand County’s temporary Face Covering By-Law No. 2191/20, which took effect August 1, 2020, is set to expire November 3. Council will not be extending the by-law as stricter, provincially-mandated regulations are now in effect.

The Province’s face covering regulations took effect October 5 and require that all businesses and organizations in Ontario require persons to wear a face covering in public areas at all times. These regulations supersede those outlined in the County’s by-law.

County staff will continue to have a role in education and enforcement of the Province’s regulations. The OPP will similarly continue with a role in this regard.

Should the Province rescind its regulations, staff will seek advice from the Health Unit and if necessary, work towards bringing another by-law forward for Council’s consideration. At this time there has been no indication from the Province as to when face covering regulations might be rescinded, and it is expected that they will remain in effect throughout the winter months.

Haldimand County will continue working closely with the Health Unit in managing the local COVID-19 response.

For more information about the local COVID-19 situation, visit HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19 or HNHU.org.

Information on Provincial face covering regulations is available at Ontario.ca.

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