Greater Napanee Council makes ambitious plans for future

Napanee Town Hall at night. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

From the fire service to shops, from swimming pools to snakes: Greater Napanee Council’s slate was full at its Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023 meeting. The discussions and decisions were as far-ranging in topics as they were in their impact on residents over the next four years.

Emergency Services

The “interim” designation was removed from both the Fire Chief and the Deputy Fire Chief, establishing that Bill Hammond is now the official Fire Chief and Deputy Chief will officially be Kevin Duncan.

Business Improvement Area

Downtown Napanee property and business owners should watch the mail for their chance to vote on the reinstating of the Business Improvement Area (BIA).

After another prolonged discussion about the matter, Mayor Terry Richardson interjected, “We’re here to fix this thing… We’ve identified all the people that are part of the BIA organization or the area. If the vote is 1/3 to say no, it’s over: we can’t establish [a BIA]. However, if the vote is less than 1/3 to say no, it comes back to Council with the opportunity to establish a BIA… We have to talk to these people. They’re going to get a letter in the mail, and we’re going to identify who the property owners are and who the [lessors] of the properties or [property tax payers] are, because those are people that are part of the BIA. And this is all dictated and legislated by the Municipal Act.”

This legislation, said Richardson, “tells us how to do it. So if it’s going to tell us how to do it, maybe we should take advantage of it because that’s the way this game is going to be played. So we send the letters out, and we [clearly establish] what has to happen.” 

In a unanimous vote, Council decided to follow the process laid out in the Municipal Act and send notice by mail to the former members of the BIA with its intention to reinstate the BIA. Those former members who object to this reinstatement must send notice to the Town within 30 days of receiving their letter.

In the meantime, a new Downtown Advisory Committee will be established to guide council decisions about the downtown (see below).

Town Committees

Boards and committees were previously discussed at the Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 meeting of Council. At that meeting, Council passed a resolution: “That Council direct staff to review and update the Terms of Reference for each internal Committee of Council to ensure they align with the objectives of the Strategic Plan, Recreation Master Plan, and any other specific priorities as may be established from time to time.”

At that meeting, Council confirmed the continuation of, and councillor appointments to, the Physician Recruitment Committee, Aquatics Committee, and Community Development Advisory Committee. 

At its most recent meeting, on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, the newly elected Council voted to re-establish the following advisory committees and elected representatives to each committee: Councillor Bill Martin will join the Heritage Committee and the Waste Diversion Committee, and Councillor Bob Norrie will join the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.

Council also established two new committees. The newly formed Downtown Advisory Committee will have Councillor Angela Hicks as a member. This committee will take charge of advising the Town Council and staff on all matters regarding the beautification and promotion of the former BIA area in the Town of Greater Napanee, and will ensure that the downtown is appropriately represented in Town plans, policy initiatives, infrastructure projects, and budgets, wherever and whenever possible.

Council will also establish a Recreation Advisory Committee, which Mayor Richardson described as “a new way of looking at how we do recreation in the community.” This committee will advise Town Council and staff on all matters regarding the recommendations brought forward in Greater Napanee’s Recreation Master Plan. The objective of the committee is to ensure that recreation is appropriately represented in Town plans, policy initiatives, infrastructure projects, and budgets, wherever and whenever possible. Deputy Mayor Brian Calver will sit on this committee.

Exotic Animals Bylaw review

Early in the meeting, Council received a deputation from Rob Laidlaw of Zoocheck and Michèle Hamers of World Animal Protection, who offered their expertise in establishing a municipal exotic animal bylaw.

While Council received these presentations for information, they ultimately passed the bylaw as it was proposed, but with the caveat that it could be revisited at any time in the future.

The revised prohibited animals list includes animals that pose a significant risk to human health, life, and safety, should the animal escape its enclosure and be at large. The revision keeps the onus of enforcement on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry with regard to those who may be keeping native Ontario wildlife as pets. The revision also removed those animals which are typically included in exotic animal bans due to their potential invasive species risk or complex care needs from the list. 

The bylaw was drafted to include a specific prohibition list, rather than a permitted schedule, to keep the focus on dangerous animals, in accordance with the community feedback received. According to Town Clerk Jessica Walters, the decision was made to implement specific guidelines that look to support human safety.

“There was a bylaw that was originally presented in draft form January 10, and based on the 98 survey responses from the community, [there seemed to be] a stronger preference to have that bylaw, but scale back on what animals [are banned] in the Appendix,” she explained of what prompted the changes, which Town staff implemented.

“That’s the bylaw that’s before you on [the January 31 meeting] agenda. From staff’s perspective… we felt it was better to have something in place rather than our current status quo [of] having nothing in place.”

Specific animals were not banned, but characteristics of the animals were included instead. For example, pet snakes cannot be venomous and may not exceed two metres in length.

The bylaw further prohibits ownership of all endangered or protected animals, and any animal that is or is deemed to be potentially harmful to humans due to its nature, aggressiveness, size, strength, speed, physical attributes such as sharp teeth and claws, venom or toxins, and that require specifically designed enclosures to ensure safekeeping.

The new bylaw includes grandfathering clauses for any currently owned exotic animals within the community; these clauses require owners to prove they can meet safety and housing standards for those animals.

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