Misconduct followup, Santa Parade, short-term rentals top Napanee Council agenda

Napanee Town Council held their regular meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 26, 2021. Updates from Town staff, and lively discussion took place on a myriad of issues.

Napanee Town Hall. Photo by Bay of Quinte Tourism.

Mayor’s coaching

As a follow-up to the misconduct of Mayor Marg Isbester, it was previously recommended by the integrity commissioner that Ms. Isbestor go through code of conduct coaching. 

At their last meeting, Council elected not to pursue an option of coaching that would include other members of council or coaching (or any other actions) that would include the public. CAO John Pinsent said that he would have staff investigate obtaining the training for the mayor at a lesser cost than the Commissioner’s $2,000 recommended course. In his report, the CAO presented a new option in which he secured the coaching for a lesser price of $1,155 plus HST. This development opportunity, he explained, “has been sourced through a reputable private firm with an ICF accredited Excelerator Coach.”  

Santa Claus Parade

Changes to outdoor gathering guidelines due to the pandemic were made by the province on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. Much discussion on the topic of the annual Santa Claus Parade took place, resulting in a resolution to reverse a previous decision not to have the event, set a date for the parade, and encourage members of the public to help organize.

Short-term rental bylaw

The merits of the town enforcing limited licensing for short-term rental properties, such as Airbnbs, were discussed. Council ruled in favour of pursuing the issue.

“There are corporations that are buying up these available units and then it’s twofold,” Councillor John McCormack pointed out. “You’re losing available housing and also it’s for-profit. The business is changing, so we really have to get on top of it.”

CAO Pinsent pointed out that the fees would offset some of the costs associated with inspections by services such as Greater Napanee Emergency Services during the licensing procedure.

Town staff were directed to draft a bylaw to regulate short-term accommodation renters, which which would see short term rental owners purchasing a licence and with the Town for a price of up to $1,000 a year.

Statements by Council members

Councillor Terry Richardson thanked the Heritage Committee, volunteers and participants who took part in the Haunted History Walk Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Donations to the walk raised $450 for the Napanee Legion Poppy Fund.

Councillor McCormack raised the idea of painting town crosswalks in the spring to raise awareness and support for the Pride movement and Truth and Reconciliation. Council was asked to consider these ideas, and Town staff were asked to research the costs and needs associated and return next month to report to Council.

Boat Launch

Next, resident Donald Stokes presented his deputation regarding the downtown Napanee boat launch in detail. 

Councillor Dave Pinnell took issue with Stokes’s suggestion that the no-wake zone should be reduced, saying that those signs and buoys, though not enforceable, are appreciated by waterfront property owners.

Councillor Richardson agreed with Stokes that there is a major problem at the location in terms of enforcement. “It’s a question of whether we can deal with the enforcement issue with respect to the parking and it’s a battle that we’ve been fighting since we accepted this Concept C. As recent as tonight [as I was] going home, there are [parking] violations [occurring] there. I drive across that bridge virtually every day, sometimes two or three times a day. There are violations there that have to be dealt with,” he said. “And as far as I’m concerned, coming from the world of enforcement, the only way we can deal with that is through enforcement. I do appreciate the fact that you’ve come here tonight. It’s a concern for a lot of voters that there’s a concern for a lot of people that want to use that facility.”

The Mayor clarified that she had attended a recent “inaugural voyage” of a tour boat by the restaurant next door to the boat launch, but that she would attend any ribbon-cutting type event in the town to which she was invited, in her duties as Mayor. Councillor McCormack explained that he had not attended the event but in his case, he was out of town. Both seemed to point this out in an effort to clarify that their attendance or non-attendance should not be construed as support of the restaurant versus the boat launch, or vice versa.

A motion was then passed to note and receive the deputation.

For more information about the many other topics of discussion, you can view the meeting for yourself on the town YouTube channel.  Reports, agenda and minutes can be found by visiting Town’s Council and Committees web portal.

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