The council of Southgate Township met on Oct. 18 with all members in attendance at the Egremont council chambers for the first regular council meeting in a month.
TOWNSHIP TO ADOPT NEW ALERT SYSTEM
Communicating with the public is a challenge, but Southgate is hoping that a new service will help.
A Canadian company, Voyent Alert, makes the software used by many municipalities to send out alerts using technology, both new and old
Residents can download a Voyent Alert app onto their mobile phone, but they can also choose to receive alerts by text, email, or a landline phone.
Having the alerts will help to notify of disasters and what authorities are recommending. As important as those situations are, they are not frequent.
But staff liked the flexibility to send notices of road closures, and changes in services or hours.
Beyond that, the software can deliver community messages of events and celebrations.
Eye-catching, easy-to-read templates for a variety of purposes come with the system. That should benefit the staff in terms of ease of use, and also the public who want to know what they need to know at a glance.
Council approved putting the cost of $4,500 into the 2024 budget.
Residents won’t be automatically enrolled, for privacy reasons. They have to act themselves to download the app or sign up for the service online. It’s a simple sign-up with no need to give your name, and meets Canadian privacy standards.
Coun. Monica Singh Soares asked about what strategies staff had for getting the public to use it.
Clerk Lindsey Green agreed that would be the biggest challenge. There are promotional materials to use provided by the company, the representative send when presenting to council last month.
Ms Green said that it could be promoted through the tax bill, social media and the website, or perhaps a mailing, but that would have a cost.
Deputy-Mayor Dobreen endorsed the possibilities of the system. “We’ve been talking about how we get the word out to the public on any issue,” she observed.
The messages delivered on phones can include PDFs, videos and links.
Coun. Martin Shipston asked what kind of traffic the township gets on its website. The clerk said there is more reach with social media than the website.
A previous app, Recycle Coach, which helped with waste schedule reminders, was dropped. The value for money wasn’t there, Public Works Manager Jim Ellis said as they only got up to about 200 users.
Shape Southgate was another electronic consultation software from Bang the Table, which was tried.
Coun. Jason Rice said he didn’t think that the township would get the uptake needed with the new approach.
“It’s a risk we’re taking, but I hope we will,” replied Clerk Lindsey Green, who researched the system and several alternatives.
She said the Voyent Alert system was highly recommended, and provided the best value.
The commitment is only for a one-year contract.
Hanna & Hamilton had the lowest bid on the tender for the Love-Sherk drainage project at $106,620.02 including HST.
Drainage engineer Tom Pridham said the company had been in the business for about 70 years. The Township of Southgate crew as finishing up its part of the work, the day of the council meeting, he added.
The cost of the work and equipment, up to about $39,000, is part of the overall project work, and is assigned to various parties as part of the lengthy drainage process.
The project is for lands at Southgate Rd. 14 near Sideroad 13. The work will create an exit, lowering the culvert running north-south across Southgate Road 14.
NAMING OPPORTUNITY IN MARKDALE HOSPITAL
Southgate was offered its choice of several areas in the new hospital to have a plaque placed in recognition of the township’s contribution.
Council chose the staff room in the emergency department. Deputy-Mayor Dobreen made the suggested, to which Coun. Singh Soares lent her support.
Once all recognition plaques are in place, the mayor said, there would be a reception, perhaps before year-end.
A motion was passed regarding safety clothing for employees. The report came forward as part of staff “pulling apart” the Personnel Policy, to put together a manual, as was approved by council.
The change was made to the allowances for full-time and for seasonal Township employees which were previously the same. Now the per season allowance for seasonal employees is set at half of full-time, and the building and bylaw department were brought up to the same allowance as other departments said HR Manager Kayla Best. In the future the safety clothing will be allocated to individual department budgets, rather than to the joint health and safety committee.
Council approved a zoning bylaw amendment to allow a shop on Southgate Road 12 west of Grey Road 8 (Bowman). The On-Farm Diversified Use will be about 300 m from the nearest house.
An application from Moses Bauman for about 99 acres on Southgate Road 22, east of SR 13 was approved. The zoning bylaw change will allow an on-farm shop in an Agricultural Exception Zone, as is the usual practice. A commercial entrance and paved apron are required onto the asphalt road.
Council approved the sale of a portion of the township stormwater block on Uncle Tom Crescent, north of Mount Forest, between Co. Rd. 109 and Southgate SR 41. A staff report was made on the request from an adjacent landowner who was already maintaining the land.
Council went into closed session on four matters, an opinion of land value, property negotiations, ongoing litigation and personal matters about an identifiable individual.
By M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 27, 2023 at 20:25