Morris-Turnberry moves ahead with strategic plan items
BY DENNY SCOTT
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or in some cases because of it, Morris-Turnberry staff is moving ahead with several action items within the municipality’s strategic plan.
During Morris-Turnberry Council’s Sept. 1 meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Trevor Hallam outlined several actions staff had taken to try and meet goals set out by council in the plan.
During a planning meeting late last year, council had identified supporting recreational facilities in neighbouring municipalities as an unsustainable practice. In response, Hallam and other staff have implemented application processes for grants and for donations.
Hallam said the two processes were similar in that they required groups to fill out a form and explain how much money is needed, why the projects are necessary and show the need for the money. Those requests will be weighed against each other during the annual budget process.
“It makes sense for those people to come to staff and council to prove the need [for funding] rather than spend staff time to determine what’s needed and comb through [an organization's] books,” he said during the meeting. “Applications are to be received by the end of November. We plan to send out application forms to anyone who received funding through the 2020 budget or in previous years.”
Hallam said he hopes groups assess their needs and come forward with proof to back up funding or grant requests instead of requesting money because they had received it in previous years.
Hallam also said that, through a bylaw passed earlier this year, municipal-led financing is available for these groups that prove a need.
“[That’s for a situation] where someone wants capital work,” he said. “We would be able to, at our [favourable] interest rate, float some of that amount for them to repay.”
Council also directed staff to limit resources regarding community involvement through advertising expenses.
He said that, through limiting advertising expenses, the municipality has cut more than $4,000 between 2016 and 2019 during which council approved approximately $6,000 on advertising. The 2020 advertising budget, through August 25, was at only $783.33, however he said that was due to COVID-19.
Hallam also said he had given some thought to parades and how council could limit expenses or staff time, but admitted that with the pandemic, there hadn’t been many requests for parades, so the issue wasn’t pressing.
To address housing and development shortages, staff members have been trying to find ways to make development more streamlined, Hallam said, however that’s proving difficult as the processes “aren’t very straight forward or clear cut”.
Hallam said each development is different and may require different studies, so it’s hard to create a catch-all list to provide to developers.
He said the best staff have been able to do is direct developers to information provided by Huron County.
The municipality has generated a site plan guide adopted earlier this year, Hallam said, that will be available online in the future.
In working towards asset management goals, Hallam said camera work in the storm sewers is still needed to complete the Belgrave storm sewer master plan, however, due to unforeseen contingencies in other projects, the camera work has been delayed.
Council received Hallam’s report.