Oxford County Politics

Tillsonburg Still Looking at Internet/Telephone Voting

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 08:20 BD
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by Brian Donlevy Tillsonburg Council is still leaning towards moving to internet and telephone voting but they want to be sure of the costs before proceeding. Back in January Council approved a motion for the change to be made but they wanted more information including how much the switch will cost. Council heard more about the change at their last meeting but there was still no cost estimate. Council decided to hold off giving final approval until they saw the numbers which will happen at the last meeting of April. That is the deadline for passing the enabling bylaw because provincial legislation says any changes must be passed by Council before the 1st of May. Council is also going to send a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs requesting a change that would allow a business owner, who does not reside in town to vote in a municipal election. Currently if someone owns property in two municipalities they can vote to fill municipal council positions in both places.

Oxford County March 22nd Wrap

Thursday, 23 March 2017 08:08 BD
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by Brian Donlevy

Oxford County Council has given approval to an official plan change allowing for increased density on two parcels of land on Hardy Avenue in Tillsonburg. The change was requested by a group known as Tillsonburg Non-Profit Housing to allow for construction of a single storey 16 unit building designed to house low income seniors. The Town currently owns the lands, but in order to complete a sale, the change to medium density zoning was needed. The Town of Tillsonburg when it passed the motion of support for the change requested a say in the site plan approval process so they could comment on the look of the building.

So called garden suites or temporary housing will not meet the new definition of backyard residential infilling in Ingersoll.  Granny flats are common in rural areas, and normally are used on farms to house other members of a family.  The permission to have one on the farm needs to be renewed every couple of years. In many cases the granny flats are actually mobile homes that are not allowed to have a permanent foundation. The biggest case against garden suites in urban settings is they are very difficult to integrate into a community in a manner that is compatible with surrounding development.

The issue of whether to extend sewer and waste water services to the village of Princeton is not dead.  County Council was reviewing a consultant's proposal that talked about extending and expanding the sewer system in Drumbo but not extend it to, or do anything else about Princeton.  The report recommended residents in the village stay on septic systems even though it noted that 70 percent had gone beyond their expected service lives.  Council told staff to go back to the residents of Princeton and show the County's preferred option but investigate alternatives that may be raised by the community.


Zorra March 21st Wrap

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 08:03 BD
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by Brian Donlevy
The fear of the cuts to provincial funding impacting local services has come to fruition in Zorra Township.  The municipality has lost more than a million and a half dollars in provincial dollars over the past few years and Council always been fearful of the day when the choice would be a massive tax hike or cuts in service.  It looks like 2017 will be a combination of both. Council started the budget process looking at a 7and a half percent increase in the amount of money needed from taxes.  One impact is that both the arena in Embro and the one in Thamesford will not be open during the day Wednesday or Thursdays.  As well, all shifts will be covered by full time staff for the 7 months of the year and they will not have any weekends off.

Budget cuts in Zorra Township means less part time staff is going to be hired.  In order to get the tax level down to a more acceptable level, hours for part time staff at the arenas will be cut in half from 32 to 16. The municipality will also not hire a summer student for the office.  That will mean almost $6900 in savings.

A planned subdivision near the Cold Spring processing plant will remain on the books for at least another 18 months.  The draft plan of subdivision was originally submitted to Oxford County and Zorra Township back in 2000. A plan needs to be revisited every two years with official extensions must be allowed by the Township and the County. Zorra requested an additional meeting with Maple Leaf Foods, who owns the land, in light of their announcement to close the facility.  The company said in light of its decision to move production they will need more time to sell the lands.

There could be two children’s camps running in Thamesford this summer.  Zorra Township Council was asked to consider closing their day camp and have everyone registered with a local church’s camp.  One of the problems with not running the municipal camp is the fact that 39 people have already registered.  The Zorra camp runs from 8:30 to 4:30 and is open for children from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 5. It will operate from July 3rd to September 1st.  There will be programming around a common theme that will change every week.  It will cost $20.00.


SWOX March 21st Wrap

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 07:59 BD
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by Brian Donlevy
The retirement of the Chief Building Official in South-West Oxford Township is creating a bottleneck in that department.  Hiring has taken longer than hoped because it is a very competitive market with a number of retirements.  The SWOX staff has been operating with assistance from both Zorra and Norwich Townships.  In the meantime Council is looking at using a private company to fill the gap temporarily.

Negotiations between South-West Oxford and Ingersoll on a boundary adjustment are continuing, albeit slowly.  There has been some movement when it comes to contentious issues such as the number of dwellings per acre, energy efficiency standards and compensation levels.  David Mayberry says both sides know what the other wants and what they are willing to give, but it comes down to finding common ground.


Blandford Blenheim March 15th Wrap

Thursday, 16 March 2017 07:17 BD
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By Brian Donlevy

Blandford Blenheim Council is asking to Oxford County Council to ignore a consultant’s report and approve a waste water system for the village of Princeton.  Council says because of the fact that 74 percent of the existing septic tanks have exceeded their lifespan and these may be to blame for some contamination of some wells in the area, Princeton needs a system.  Council notes that major road work is scheduled to be done in the village in 2020 so that would be the ideal time to start the work.
Oxford is taking their Septic system educational program throughout the County.  SepticSmart Oxford is an information session hosted by County staff that provides understanding a home’s septic system, how to maintain and record the maintenance of the system and how to get the appropriate permits. The sessions can also inform users of a septic system if they live in a watershed area which means they are subject to mandatory inspections by the County’s Public Health department. Details will be announced at next week’s County Council meeting.


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