Concerns with voters list, NVCA, topics at ROMA

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The annual Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference took place in Toronto Jan. 27-29, where municipal officials go to network and catch the ear of provincial politicians. 

Clearview Mayor Doug Measures said he wasn’t planning on attending the conference this year but at the last minute he agreed to go so he could attend two scheduled meetings with provincial ministries. 

During the conference, ministry officials see municipal delegations during 15-minute meetings. Measures said by the time handshakes, introductions and photo ops are made, there is about 10 minutes to state the case. 

The first meeting was with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, when Measures, along with Clerk Pamela Fettes, raised concerns about the voters list.

Inconsistent and inaccurate information recorded in the voters list is a cause for concern for local elections in the digital age. 

The way rural addresses are recorded is a particular challenge. 

“The addressing is difficult because when you enter information into the database online, it has to match whatever it is on the database, but you don’t know what it is,” said Measures, referring to the various ways people write their rural address. 

“It is a problem and they recognized that immediately,” said Measures.

The second meeting was with Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. 

Measures, Clearview CAO Steve Sage and Councillor  Thom Paterson met with Khanjin to express concerns about delays with applications submitted to the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA).

Whether its simple building permits or large developments, said Measures, people are experiencing delays in receiving approvals to move their projects forward. 

“Steve Sage has been monitoring that over the last couple of years, through building applications or development permits in the community, and how developers are seeing long delays from the NVCA. We’ve determined that NVCA is swamped with the number of applications they get and they simply don’t have the staff to handle the amount of applications they are getting,” said Measures. 

He said not only is it costly to have a second stage of permitting, beyond the local level (even for something like a pool or fence), but they are “taking forever” to review them.

“The focus of the NVCA has changed quite a bit over the years from looking after riverbank management and severe flood planning and that type of activity, now they’ve branched off to reviewing everything from sidewalk applications because it happens to be in a secondary flood zone for the Lamont Creek,” said Measures.

He said Khanjin encouraged the municipality to submit comments during an upcoming review of conservation authorities across the province.

Measures said he is looking forward to the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) conference at the end of February, where he hopes to meet with the Minister of Transportation to discuss issues around Highway 26 through Stayner. 

Part of the Stayner Downtown Improvement Plan, to make the main street more pedestrian friendly, involves potentially installing a crosswalk, which requires special permission from the Minister of Transportation. 

Measures said he is hoping to address that and other traffic management issues in the downtown core, which require ministry approvals, so the municipality can move ahead with the downtown revitalization initiative.

Contributed photo: Clearview Township clerk Pamela Fettes (from left) and Mayor Doug Measures meet with provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark at the ROMA conference in Toronto this week.

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