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West Nipissing Municipality News

Municipality of French River Raises Boundary Realignment

Posted December 2, 2015 and featured in the December 1 Newsletter

Through our West Nipissing Councillor Guy Fortier, UFRCA was informed recently that the Municipality of French River (main office in Noelville) has made an initial approach to West Nipissing (main office in Sturgeon Falls) about the possibility of redrawing their mutual boundary. 
 
West Nipissing responded formally that they would need more details before any further discussions could take place.  At the same time, UFRCA put forward some initial feedback to West Nipissing that had these key points:
 

  • UFRCA members would be opposed to anything that would raise taxes but, in particular, that would raise taxes without any commensurate increase in services.
  • At our 2015 Annual General Meeting, there was significant discussion and concern about fire, police, and EMS services and the need for enhanced and more predictable services. 
  • The Board was strongly directed by the membership to pursue this with West Nipissing in terms of getting better, more predictable services in these critical emergency areas as opposed to fewer services.
  • Given that Emergency Services in French River are more limited, and UFRCA members, through our taxes, have already made a major contribution to building services in West Nipissing, we would need to study carefully changes to services vis a vis taxes, should any realignment be proposed.

 
UFRCA has since also reached out to John Regan, the CAO of French River, who confirmed that the next step in their process was for French River to do some mapping and then to identify the potential geographic scope with a focus on whether there are natural boundaries that make more sense than the current situation.  As many UFRCA members will know, Hwy 64 currently divides the North Monetville community in a way that does not necessarily make the most sense in terms of municipal services.  For example – the Public School is on the west side of the road in French River and the Fire Station on the east side is in West Nipissing. 
 
Mr. Regan indicated that the initial mapping may be completed by February 2016 at which point the results would be shared and discussed with UFRCA.  The initial mapping phase would be followed by analysis of the potential impact on municipal costs, assessments (tax rates for the two are very similar), and services to permanent and seasonal residents, and then more formal engagement between the two municipalities, including public consultation. 
 
At this point, without further information about the geographic scope, it is difficult to assess what the impact on UFRCA members might be.  Some members might remember that this issue surfaced back in 2005-7 and, at the time, the proposal (from a group of citizens, not the Municipality of French River itself at the time) was to transfer all of Louden, Falconer, Latchford, and Bertram Townships to French River – which basically would have captured all of the cottages on the north shore of the River up to Fisherman’s Island and the Blueberry Islands, including Sandy Island.
 
Also, UFRCA should be aware that the process to resolve this is not likely to be quick.  Realigning boundaries and going through all of the requisite public consultations and approvals by other levels of government could take at least two years and possibly more.  And with the next provincial and municipal elections scheduled for 2018, boundary changes that are controversial could take even longer.  At this point, UFRCA is staying in close contact with our West Nipissing Councillor Guy Fortier and CAO Jay Barbeau, as well as with French River CAO John Regan, and will get back to members when more information is available.
 
West Nipissing to Review Emergency Services on the Upper French River
At the 2015 UFRCA Annual General Meeting, the issue of emergency services was very much a topic of concern and discussion.  Members asked the Board to engage in a discussion with the Municipality of West Nipissing about current service levels and the need for better communication from police fire, and EMS officials about what members can expect.  In response, the Board has been in contact with West Nipissing CAO Jay Barbeau, who as always, responded very positively.  He committed to raise the matter with Council and to collect information from the fire, police, and EMS departments about current service levels and communications protocols for services to the Upper French River.  The information collected will be the basis for a meeting with UFRCA representatives to be set up in the new year.  



Municipal Election Results

Updated October 28, 2014

On October 27 municipal elections were held across Ontario. Due to the efforts of the UFRCA eight years ago, West Nipissing Municipality now has a mail-in voting process for Canadian residents who own property in Bertram Township. Mayor Joanne Savage was acclaimed. There were two candidates for Ward 8 Councillor: incumbent Guy Fortier and Rodney Wolfe. There were also elections for school board trustees, and the candidates varied depending on which school board is supported by the property owner.

Fortier Re-elected
The results of the Ward 8 election in the Municipality of West Nipissing are in.  Incumbent Guy Fortier has been re-elected with a comfortable margin.  Mr. Fortier received 258 votes compared to challenger Rodney Wolfe’s 205 votes.   There were no challengers for the Mayor's Office, with Joanne Savage, first elected in 2003, acclaimed for another term.  West Nipissing, with a total population of 14,149, has 11,904 eligible voters.  Voter turnout yesterday was 5,256 or 44.15% of those eligible to vote. 
(Source: Association of Municipalities of Ontario Web site.)

The unorganized townships of Patterson and Hardy (south side of the Upper French) are in Parry Sound District. Cottage owners who are Canadian citizens have received a ballot to elect 2 representatives on the Parry Sound District Social Services Board. Information on candidates may be found athttp://www.psdssab.org/ Click on TWOMO Election.

On October 15, we  distributed an e-mail to Canadian resident property owners and provided information received from the Bertram Township Ward 8 councillor candidates.

New Comprehensive Zoning By-law

Posted May 20, 2013
The following was posted on the web site of the Municipality of West Nipissing.

The Municipality of West Nipissing is pleased to be starting the preparation of a new Comprehensive Zoning By-law for the municipality. The new Zoning By-law will amalgamate and update the existing Zoning By-laws in effect in various parts of West Nipissing into one Comprehensive Zoning By-law applicable to the entire municipality. The goal of this process is to create a Zoning By-law, with new mapping and text, which will provide for consistency across the municipality and will be user friendly, easily understood and simple to use.

The Municipality has retained the services of Planscape Inc., planning consultants based in Bracebridge, Ontario to undertake this project. The project is anticipated to be undertaken over a period of approximately 12-14 months, and will include the preparation of a series of Discussion Papers, digital mapping, public consultation and various drafts of the Zoning By-law, ending in the passage of a new Comprehensive Zoning By-law by Council.

The various documents will be posted on the website as they are produced.

What is a zoning by-law?

A Zoning By-law is used by the municipality to regulate the use of land. It is intended to provide the municipality with a way to co-ordinate lands uses, protect areas by preventing incompatible uses and establish appropriate standards for development. Basically, a Zoning By-law identifies how properties can be used and how they can be developed.

Public Consultation

Both West Nipissing and Planscape understand that public consultation is vital to the success of this project. As such, we encourage the public’s participation throughout this process, and will provide for numerous opportunities for the public to provide comments through public open houses, formal public meetings, stakeholder meetings, and being available to meet at the municipal offices.

Watch this page for notices of future meetings and the distribution of additional documents.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact either Melanie Ducharme, Clerk & Planner at mducharme@westnipissing.ca or directly to Planscape at the following:

Email: westnipissingzoning@planscape.ca
Telephone: (705) 645-1556
Fax: (705) 645-4500


Bertram Township, on the north side of the French River and formerly an unorganized township, is in the "rural" area of the Municipality of West Nipissing. There have been several discussion papers posted on the West Nipissing web site. These outline the general purpose and background of the comprehensive by-law and deal with several regions that had their own by-laws prior to amalgamation. The Draft Official Plan for the municipality may be seen here.

 

West Nipissing Municipality Web Site

The official web site for the Municipality of West Nipisssing is here.
 

Island subdivision given draft approval

Thursday, April, 05, 2012 - 5:05:10 PM
By Wayne LeBelle – North Bay Nipissing News

WEST NIPISSING – Draft approvals for three plans of subdivision on March 20, will eventually create 34 new building lots in West Nipissing. Each approval has specific conditions and amendments to be met before they receive their final plan of approval.

The Guenette/Ethier 19-lot subdivision in Springer Township is located on vacant land west of Tamerack Avenue in Sturgeon Falls. An eight-lot subdivision on 17.8 hectares of vacant land is planned in Concession 1, Badgerow Township, located on the north side of Gareau Road in Verner by Andrew Benedetti.

Gerry Larcher of Sturgeon Falls, owner of the historic Keystone Island at the mouth of the French River, received draft approval for the creation of seven lots on Island 151, French River in the Township of Bertram. One of the conditions is a full environmental assessment of the island, along the shoreline and the bed of the lake. Mr. Larcher, owner of Keystone for 10 years, told the News two cottages and the main lodge would not be demolished. He bought Keystone from his father Claude who owned it for 11 years.

George Leach, a railway engineer was the first owner of Keystone Island in 1910, then named Leach Island. The main lodge on the island was named Keystone out of respect of the many early guests who were from Pennsylvania, also known as the Keystone State. Eventually, the island became Keystone Island.

Ford dealer Rollie Fisher of North Bay bought the island in 1944. According to Denise Lavigne, who wrote a short Keystone history, there were “no motors in those days and row boats were used and guides were paid one dollar a day.” He operated it for one season and Bill Kennedy, 33 of North Bay, bought it. He operated it until 1978 and it had become a “Deerhurst” of its time. It was a very popular tourist site and meeting place for Lake Nipissing and the French River. The ONR Chief Commanda tour boat used to stop at Keystone.

Bill Brownlee of North Bay bought it next and in 1983, it was purchased by Sturgeon Falls businessmen including: Roger Arcand, Gerard Beauparlant, Roland Davidson, Michel Desgroseillers, Ted Doucette, Merwin “Butch” Dupuis, Ralph Garland, Jacques Lalonde, Jerome Leblanc, Rodolphe Leblanc, Gilles Lecouteur and Armand Paquette. At this time the business operated with a staff of 11 and 15 employees.

[Karen Montcalm of North Bay, granddaughter of Bill Kennedy who worked at the Keystone, was very helpful with background for this story, which really needs a full book to tell the stories of the Keystone.]
 
Deliberations trim 3 per cent from tax hike       
   


Thursday, February, 16, 2012 - 3:03:16 PM
Story by Wayne LeBelle

North Bay Nipissing News www.northbaynipissing.com

STURGEON FALLS – Whittling down a puffed-up municipal budget is both an art and a science that is practiced in many Council boardrooms these days. West Nipissing Council took its’ first run at the 2012 budget on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 8:30 a.m. morning into the early afternoon.

West Nipissing Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Jay Barbeau led the deliberations shaping the demands of the 30-page budget, into the final figures.

When they wrapped up their talks, they went from a possible 7.3 per cent hike down to a 3.75 per cent increase from the $21,374,000 budget of 2011. That increase would mean a budget of about $21.5 million to $22 million. Barbeau estimates that would mean an average increase of $68 on 2012 tax bills.

The general reserve of the municipality is now at $2.3 million with the 2011 addition of a $350,000 surplus. There also dedicated reserves, for example, for replacing vehicles, perpetual care in the cemetery or specific needs.

When the meeting started, Barbeau asked if council wanted to, “maintain present operations, increase their budget to do more or, are they in favor of reducing their budget?” He made many suggestions about “cuts” or reduction of budgets during the entire meeting. Council will discuss all suggestions in public and privately before it agrees to the final product.

Mayor Joanne Savage said she is not thinking of reducing. “We should maintain what we have,” said Savage.

Barbeau said that the municipality is not, “in dire straights, the residents will want for us to provide the services they expect.”

Barbeau often reminded council that 2012 will be a tough year as Ontario is already cutting back many budgets.

“Do you want to cut back this budget, and then come again in several years, to spend twice as much at that time?” asked Barbeau.

West Nipissing has already warned taxpayers who are on water and sewers that the future years will hurt as the municipality continues to replace old pipes, equipment and systems that will need to be repaired and replaced. Sturgeon Falls was incorporated in 1895 and many original pipes, equipment and water lines are still in use. The sewer and water charges will not faze rural taxpayers as they have septic systems and dug or drilled wells but it will be a challenge for the urban taxpayers. In addition to public works, other budget items will be reviewed as well as solid waste.

According to Barbeau, West Nipissing’s average home of $135,000 residential tax rates in 2011 are the lowest when compared to Temiskaming Shores, Kenora, Elliot Lake and North Bay.