County Council News

By Cecilia Nasmith

Existing drug-and-alcohol personnel policy will suffice for now

On the first day of legal cannabis in Canada, Northumberland County chief administrative officer Jennifer Moore said that the drug and alcohol policy for county employees will suffice for now.

“We have done minor modifications to reflect changing legislation but, by and large, most of the content we have remained consistent as far as how we manage both recreational and medicinal use,” Moore said following the October county council meeting.

In her verbal update on the recent Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus meeting, Moore had described two presentations on this topic. The CAO of Greater Napanee discussed the impact of the legislation on municipal operations, such as waste management and sewage treatment, and a representative of the Public Services Health and Safety Association reported on cannabis in the workplace from a health-and-safety perspective.

Moore also gave an update on the cell-gap project. They are working with both provincial and Federal governments to address the issue, she said, though there's nothing specific to announce.

County council okays branding process

Northumberland County council has approved the continuation of its branding-strategy process to Phase 2 and its referral to the 2019 budget,

This followed a presentation on Phase 1 by director of communications Kate Campbell and Letter M Marketing president Doug MacMillan at the October county-council meeting, who said Phase 1 largely consisted of assessment and outreach.

Branding is important, MacMillan said, because this is a very competitive environment.

“Everywhere around the GTA, communities are marketing themselves to stay competitive for economic development, to bring jobs to the area, for those tourism dollars and a strong, capable workforce,” he listed.

“A brand gives clarity and distinction that helps you make decisions and helps guide your staff along the correct path, and that leads to collaboration.

“But we don't decide – you decide who you are.”

MacMillan said the engagement process in Phase 1 had been the largest one his company had ever had for this type of work, with more than 1,200 participants. The process included more than 20 confidential one-on-one interviews, five workshops and focus groups, and the largest community-survey response they had ever seen.

The result was to identify nine brand assets – natural beauty, charming and historic, welcoming and friendly, hardworking and reliable, close to the city, quiet and peaceful, thriving and enterprising, strong agricultural roots, and cultural and creative.

Interpreting these nine assets, MacMillan said, three brand signatures emerged: close to everything yet away from it all, abundant opportunity, and naturally inviting.

Phase 2 will include marketing and outreach, and MacMillan intends to use traditional tools as well as the new digital ones to get feedback.

“There's a lot of opportunity to continue to understand the best practices of your peers, to see and talk to a lot of regional governments and understand what are the current practices in branding economic markets,” he added.

“We are working with member municipalities on the next step of this strategy,” Campbell said.

“That's a key part of this process – to support every member municipality and find commonalities.”

Though he voted approval to the motion, Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson said he would have liked more specifics as to what exactly the goal of the exercise might be.

“I don't see the goal of what we want to be when we grow up. I see a process that we could end up being something, but does it maintain the values we have and the principles we have,” Sanderson wondered.

“We have a great community, all our communities and the county too. We love what we are, yet are trying to bring in development to make us what we are not.

“We like what we have, and want to keep what we have but make it better,” he said.

“Are we trying to attract everything and anything?

“Every community has its own economic-development strategy. In Port Hope, it's very strongly indicated that we are an agricultural community and we want it to stay that way – and we have a heritage downtown.

“We are the next lump of the GTA, and we want to protect the county because we are getting some pressure. We want to participate in a process that doesn't ruin the values we have – the family values, the agricultural values.

“The bottom line is, I would really like to see that goal identified clearly.”

County budget primarily on target

With the third quarter of Northumberland County's fiscal year ending on Sept 30, county council heard at its October meeting that the budget is primarily on target at this point.

Glenn Dees was accompanied by chief administrative officer Jennifer Moore for the report, with Moore highlighting some significant achievements of the third quarter.

Moore organized her presentation according to the four strategic pillars.

Under Economic Innovation and Prosperity, Moore said that a settlement-services coordinator has been hired and that (in collaboration with Alderville First Nation) an application has been made to host the 2019 Ontario Indigenous Summer Games.

“We met with the evaluation committee yesterday,” Moore said.

Under Sustainable Infrastructure, she had updates on three emergency-services bases. The Colborne one is completed, the Roseneath one is expected to go live in November, and the Campbellford one should be completed by April 2020.

The process for the Golden Plough Lodge-and-archives build is proceeding, with updates to be shared as it goes along, and the waste-relocation-and-cell-development process in the Brighton landfill is under way,

A newly hired grant writer has submitted applications for more than $750,000 in funding in her first three months. She expects to be able to deliver at least $80,000 in funding for 2019.

And an information-technology strategic plan is being completed with security upgrades and training for staff.

Under Thriving and Inclusive Communities, Affordable Housing Strategy engagement sessions have been hosted, and the fourth annual Survivors Day event recognizing first responders saw 12 cardiac-arrest survivors in attendance.

Two of Northumberland's paramedics have received exemplary-service medals from the Governor-General, and a number of them escorted participants on the 2018 Paramedic Ride through the county.

Moore added that the county has submitted application to the Ministry of Finance to opt out of the Property Tax Vacancy Rebate Program.

Under Organizational Excellence, they are developing and enhancing mechanisms to share information, experience and technological best practices through local working groups, such as the inter-municipal working group that continues to meet regularly.

They have completed an RFP for banking services with a view toward preferential fees and interest rates.

Moore was especially pleased with the new power lift-load stretcher installations that are now complete in the county's ambulances, and she says the paramedics are too.

And she speaks from experience – she took a test ride acting as a patient being transported.

“It's a very smooth ride,” she commented.