looks forward to a good 2012
By Liz Dadson
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Huron-Kinloss Township saw some major achievements in 2011 and mayor Mitch Twolan looks forward to another good year in 2012.
Reflecting on last year, he said one highlight was being recognized for the township's septic re-inspection program. Huron-Kinloss received the "Success Story" award, presented at the State of the Lakes Ecosystem (SOLEC) Conference in Erie, Pennsylvania, Oct. 26-28.
Twolan said the township has seen another strong year in the building sector, but not as strong as 2010.
"The problem we now face is we're running out of land for residential development," he said. "We have had a lot of houses built in the Heritage IV subdivision, along lake Range Drive, and in Inverlyn Estates."
He said it's a lengthy process - about two to five years - to set up property for housing developments, and involves plans-of-subdivision, engineering drawings, and comments from various agencies.
Two graders and a front-end loader were purchased last year, adding to the fleet of vehicles to service the municipality. "We did very well on the price and got a good deal on that purchase," said Twolan. "We paid about the same as we did for similar equipment in 2006."
Last year, the township began the Environmental Assessment process for a new well in Ripley and a new water tower in Lucknow. The test well is completed in Ripley, said Twolan. Now, testing will begin to determine the quality of the water. The projects could move forward this year,.
"We have reserves in place for both projects," he said. "We increased our water and distribution rates to put money aside for these two projects over four years."
A big disappointment last year was the discovery of extensive damage to the Point Clark Lighthouse, one of the township's main tourist attractions.
"It's still under construction but we're hoping it will be up and running this year," he said.
The phragmites (common reed) problem along the lakeshore seems to be under control, said Twolan, with another application to be done this spring. But the algae situation along the beach continues to be a concern.
Twolan said Huron-Kinloss is not the only Great Lakes community struggling with algae problems. "It's really dependent on lake levels," he said.
And even lake levels are a concern as Twolan, himself, has seen waves pounding the west side of Boiler Beach Road, along Huron Road, and at Bruce Beach.
Another concern is Asian Carp which eats everything in the lake. "It's good to have the Great Lake Conference so we have a chance to talk to officials from other small towns and cities who are working to clean up the Great Lakes," said Twolan.
The Pine River Watershed Initiative Network has also done a lot of work to clean up local rivers and streams, he said. It has planted about 167,000 trees, and installed numerous fenced cattle crossings.
"We have a lot of successful events in Huron-Kinloss each year," said Twolan. "And that's because we have great volunteers. Without them, there would be no community. We certainly appreciate everything they do."
Among the major events in 2011 were Music in the Fields, Strawberry Summerfest, the Ripley-Huron Fall Fair, and the Lucknow Fall Fair.
Last year, the township hired a new economic development officer, Taralyn Martin, whose job is to promote and retain business in the township, said Twolan.
One of her initiatives, working with township staff, was the Ice Cream Trail which invited people to visit eight retail outlets in Huron-Kinloss where ice cream is sold.
"It was a great promotion and it was very successful," said Twolan. "We want to see that take off this year."
The township is considering the idea of hosting the used-fuel Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) and will be obtaining further information from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), about it.
Twolan said Saugeen Shores and Brockton have also put in their names to host the DGR so Huron-Kinloss is going to be impacted. "It's good to be part of the process," he said. "We should learn more information and be better educated about the project. There are going to be groups that are against such a project but at the end of the day, we should let the residents decide if it's good, bad or indifferent."
He said there are three beach associations in the township and they will have input on any proposal. A resolution will come forward to the Jan. 19 township council meeting and then council will invite NWMO to make a presentation about the project and the process.
"It's a contentious issue," said Twolan. "It's easy to look the other way and not get involved, but the best thing to do is find out more information. A project like this could set up Huron-Kinloss for 100 years, with jobs and a strong economy."
He travelled with other local politicians to Carlsbad, New Mexico, to view the DGR there. "There are a lot of people working because of that project and it's been a huge economic benefit for that community," he said.
Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan
The proposed Ripley Square project is still a go, said Twolan, and developer David Brown is still committed to it.
As for 2012, Twolan said the township's infrastructure is in good shape, with new and newly-renovated arenas, libraries, and fire halls, and a good fleet of equipment for the roads department.
"We did a lot of projects in 2010 with the federal and provincial funding we received," he said. "That was great for Huron-Kinloss. We used a lot of reserves to do that, and we raised taxes but it was money well spent to get our infrastructure in good shape."
The major challenge for council at the start of this year, as it is with every year, is the budget. Twolan said the township will know likely by Feb. 1 what the final numbers are for 2011, so it can proceed into budget talks.
Another consideration for the township is whether to become a member of the Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit (SMART) disability transportation service for residents of Huron-Kinloss.
The township also has to look at its roads and bridges. "Often common sense needs to prevail with some of these structures," said Twolan, referring to one bridge that is used by only a few residents but would cost $400,000 to replace. The township will talk to provincial agencies to discover a better way than costly bridge replacement, he said.
Huron-Kinloss will continue to support Ontario Power Generation (OPG)'s Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate level nuclear waste at the Bruce site, said Twolan. That project should be going to a joint panel review this year.
The township has also joined with Kincardine and Arran-Elderslie, and local industries, to look at bringing natural gas service to the area, said Twolan. That would be a great benefit to residents of Huron-Kinloss.
A major impact on the township will be redevelopment at the hospitals in Kincardine and Wingham, said Twolan, with extensive community funding required.
And the continued work on the restart of Bruce A's Units 1 and 2 by Bruce Power, and further refurbishment of the other units, will affect the township with construction workers coming in and out of the area.
Also, wind turbine projects will continue to be an issue, said Twolan. "We're not sure where that's going to go."
Looking forward to the new year, Twolan is optimistic and said the township is in good shape.
"On behalf of council and staff, I wish everyone a prosperous 2012," he said. "It's going to be a good year."
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Thursday, January 05, 2012