Haldimand County closes additional amenities in response to new provincial regulations

On Friday, April 16, the Province of Ontario announced new regulations aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. The province also extended the state of emergency and stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks. These orders/regulations will now expire on May 20, 2021 unless extended by the province.

The new regulations focus on closing outdoor amenities, reducing retail capacity/gathering limits and pausing non-essential construction. Full details regarding the new regulations are available on the Ontario Government website.

In response to requirements of the new provincial regulations, all sporting fields and multi-use courts, skate parks and pavilions will be closed until further notice.

  • Municipal boat ramps
    County-owned boat ramps will remain closed, barricaded and signed.
  • Public parks, trails, beaches and piers
    Public parks, trails, beaches and piers remain open for walk-through access only.
  • Playgrounds
    Playgrounds were initially deemed to be closed when the new regulations were announced Friday, however, the Province repealed this decision and they remain open at this time.
  • Libraries
    Libraries will remain closed to in-person service, however, contactless curbside pickup services will continue.
  • Municipal By-Law Enforcement & Building
    By-law will continue to monitor these amenities in light of new regulations and take an education-first approach to enforcement.While the County office is closed, Building staff are still doing permit application intake via email, mail or drop off at the HCAB (mail slot). They continue to process permits and also issue them for construction projects that are permitted within the new regulations.

Given the stay at home order will extend well into the spring the following implications are noted:

  1. Outdoor recreation programs such as baseball and soccer will likely be delayed from normal start times;
  2. Landscaping services are listed as a permitted service. This includes turf management, landscape lighting, landscape irrigation, grounds management, landscape construction, landscape design. As such, subject to meeting safety protocols, horticultural groups who work with the County will be permitted to continue normal spring clean-up and planting activities;
  3. Farmers’ markets are permitted to remain open, however, they are limited to essential products only (i.e. food). For this reason, vendors who sell textiles, crafts, etc. are not permitted to set up until further notice.

Staff will continue to monitor the continuously changing Provincial direction and respond accordingly.

For the most up-to-date list of what’s open and what’s closed during the stay-at-home order, visit HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.

 

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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

Haldimand County Announces Closure of Administration Building In Accordance With Provincial State of Emergency and Stay At Home Order

As a result of the Ontario Government declaring a state of emergency and issuing a province-wide stay-at-home order, Haldimand County will be closing its Administration Building to the public effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01a.m. The closure is expected to last 4 weeks, unless the stay-at-home order is extended by the Province.

While the administration building is closed, staff will be available to assist customers by phone or email during regular hours (Mon-Fri, 8:30am to 4:30pm). Members of the public are encouraged to contact the County at 905-318-5932, use the Contact form at HaldimandCounty.ca/connect or info@haldimandcounty.on.ca for assistance.

A number of municipal services are also available online and do not require in-person visit. A list of alternate service options during the shutdown period is available at HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.

The Canborough Waste Management Facility is the only public facility that will remain open throughout the shutdown period, and only debit and credit payments will be accepted. Museums, libraries and arenas remain closed in accordance with provincial regulations, however, staff remain available to assist residents via phone/e-mail. Curbside pickup will continue to be offered at all library branches.

All Haldimand County facility closures, program cancellations, meeting postponements and other related details are available at HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.

To learn more about what’s open/what’s closed during the Province-wide shutdown, visit the Ontario Government website.

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 County Announces Facility Closures Following Province-Wide Emergency Brake Announcement

On Thursday, April 1, 2021, the Province of Ontario announced that it would be implementing a province-wide ‘emergency brake shutdown’ as a result of rising COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations. The province-wide emergency brake will take effect Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and is expected to last 4 weeks.

As a result of this announcement, Haldimand County will be closing a number of facilities to the public, including:

– All museums (staff will still be available to answer inquiries and requests via phone/e-mail)
– All libraries (curbside pickup only; staff will remain available to assist via phone/e-mail)
– All arenas (Note: ice rentals scheduled for tonight will continue as planned given the shutdown takes effect April 3)

All indoor recreation has been canceled and due to the length of the shutdown, ice will be removed from arenas. User groups are being notified.

Council meetings will be held virtually during the province-wide shutdown.

The Haldimand County Administration Building will remain open with strict physical distancing measures and capacity limits in place. The Canborough Waste Management Facility will also remain open, however, the Re-Use program bin will be unavailable and only debit or credit payment will be accepted.

Full details regarding municipal facilities, programs and services during the pandemic are listed on the ‘What’s Open/Closed‘ and ‘County Service Options‘ tabs at HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.

While in-person services at the Administration Building remain available, residents are reminded that a number of municipal services are available online and do not require in-person visit.

More information on what’s permitted during the emergency brake shutdown is available on the Province of Ontario’s website.

Updates will be shared as required.

Flood Warning In Effect For Lake Erie Shoreline, Areas Downstream of Dunnville Dam

A Flood Warning has been issued for the Lake Erie shoreline and areas downstream of the Dunnville Dam, including Port Maitland. The Flood Warning is expected to impact properties in Flood Zone 3.

Environment Canada has issued a Wind Warning advising of a low pressure system tracking across southern Ontario tonight. This system will bring strong southwest winds of 70 km/h gusting up to 100 km/h, before easing on Friday afternoon. Rainfall in the 15-25 mm range is also forecast for the Haldimand County overnight and into Friday morning.

Lake levels are is forecasted to peak mid-day Friday. Waves of up to 1.75 metres are forecast to accompany this event. Given the uncertainty that remains in this forecast, the public is advised to familiarize themselves with flood warning zone mapping available on Haldimand County’s website.

Residents living along Lake Erie and areas downstream of the Dunnville Dam in  Flood Zone 3 should pay close attention to water levels and stay away from the shoreline during this event.

Residents in these areas should tie down or put away loose objects, close storm shutters and take other necessary precautions. Residents are also encouraged to contact their insurance company regarding flood insurance if they do not already have it.

Haldimand County Emergency Services and Roads Operations crews will be closely monitoring conditions and will respond as needed.

A Flood Zone Map, flood guide for lakeshore property owners and other emergency preparedness resources can be found at HaldimandCounty.ca/floods.

The Flood Warning is in effect until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021 and will be updated as the event draws closer.

Watch the County website, social media channels and conservation authority websites for the most-up-to-date information.

Real. Local. Marketing Toolkit Available to Local Businesses

Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism division is excited to announce the launch of its Real. Local. Small Business Marketing Toolkit. Available for free at BusinessHaldimand.ca, the kits include Real. Local. branded assets that businesses can use in their marketing efforts.

This announcement follows the recent launch of the Tourism Haldimand website and Real Haldimand Marketplace, both found at TourismHaldimand.ca, which provide cost free supports to assist tourism businesses in Haldimand to market to their key audiences.

Utilizing the kits, businesses can add a Real. Local. decal in their storefronts, add branded stickers to products made in Haldimand and customize signage or flyers to highlight local products and services.

The free marketing toolkits include: Proud to Be a Local Business posters, customizable local product poster templates, social media profile and post templates, “Proud Local” window decals, “Real. Local.” branded stickers and the “Real. Local.” graphic element for business use.

Haldimand County continues to support businesses through the Real. Local. campaign as seen in the Real Taste of Haldimand restaurant feature in February and Holiday Wish Book in December 2020 – both aimed at increasing awareness of the retail, restaurants and services that can only be found in Haldimand County.  The toolkit furthers the impact of these efforts and will allow businesses to proudly share what local means to them.

The creation of the marketing toolkit was funded through the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“We want our businesses to feel connected to other entrepreneurs in the County, and elevate their messages using coordinated tools as a way to share their stories, products and what makes them truly local and unique to Haldimand,” said Lidy Romanuk, manager of the Economic Development and Tourism division. She added, “This toolkit is a great addition for businesses experienced in marketing, but is also an easy first step for businesses who are trying to establish their brand but aren’t sure where to get started.”

The digital elements of the Marketing Toolkit are now available for download at HaldimandCounty.ca/business-toolkit/. Physical elements including stickers, posters and window decals are available via online request form. Instructions and recommendations as to how businesses can best use the assets are also available.

Business owners are encouraged to contact Economic Development and Tourism Division staff for further suggestions on how to implement the toolkit by contacting 905-318-5932 ext. 6331 or opportunity@haldimandcounty.on.ca.

Haldimand County Asking Residents To Abide By Forest Conservation By-Law Following Increase In Tree Cutting Complaints

As property owners start to get their land ready for spring there has been an increase in the number of tree cutting complaints in Haldimand County. The Parks, Facilities, Cemeteries and Forestry Division is reminding residents of the Forest Conservation By-law 2204/20 and asking for everyone’s cooperation to ensure that trees within woodlands are not cut without a permit.

Regulation

No person shall cause, permit, allow or perform Injury or Destruction to any Tree located in a Woodlands, unless:

  1. a) exempted under the provisions of the Forest Conservation By-law; or
  2. b) they are in possession of a valid Permit issued pursuant to the provisions of the Forest Conservation By-law

Definitions

Woodlands means land one (1) hectare or more in area with at least:

  1. 1000 Trees of any size, per hectare; or
  2. 750 Trees, measuring over five (5) centimetres at DBH, per hectare; or
  3. 500 Trees, measuring over twelve (12) centimetres at DBH, per hectare; or
  4. 250 Trees, measuring over twenty (20) centimetres at DBH, per hectare.

The definition of Woodlands does not include a Cultivated Fruit or Nut Orchard or a Plantation established for the purpose of producing Christmas trees.

Tree means any species of woody perennial plant, including its root system, which has reached or can reach a height of at least 4.5 metres at physiological maturity, provided that where multiple stems grow from the same root system, the number of Trees shall be the number of stems that can be counted at a point of measure 1.37 metres from the ground.

Penalties

If a person is found guilty of cutting trees in a Woodlands without an exemption or permit they will be charged and may be liable:

  1. on a first conviction, to a maximum fine of $10,000 or $1,000 per Tree, whichever is greater; and
  2. on any subsequent convictions, to a maximum fine of $25,000 or $2,500 per Tree, whichever is greater.

If a corporation is found guilty of cutting trees in a Woodlands without an exemption or permit they will be charged and may be liable:

  1. on a first conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000 or $5,000 per Tree, whichever is greater; and
  2. on any subsequent convictions, to a maximum fine of $100,000 or $10,000 per Tree, whichever is greater.

It takes time and training to accurately identify tree species and make the correct measurements in order to determine if a treed area is regulated under the Forest Conservation By-law. Forestry staff strongly recommend that property owners and contractors contact the Parks, Facilities, Cemeteries and Forestry Division to verify if their work falls under an exemption or if a treed area meets the definition of Woodlands before any trees are cut.

There is no cost to have Parks, Facilities, Cemeteries and Forestry Division staff inspect a treed area prior to cutting. Cooperation from the public will assist the County in preserving woodlands and the health of the local ecosystem.

For more information, visit the Trees and Conservation page on the County website.

 

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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.

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