Year in Review – A look back at 2016 – Part 1

January

The first Syrian refugees arrived in St. Marys.

Town Treasurer Jim Brown introduced a new proposal that would see properties with tax arrears of three years or more possibly being sold to recoup the taxes.

It was announced that the Library would receive $36,700 for a space/service study and Community Players $38,300 for the upgrade to the Auditorium at the Town Hall, from Trillium Grants.

Perth South Treasurer Rebecca Clothier told Council that their application for a grant under the Federal Small Communities Fund had been denied for a second time.

Town Council announced that hydro and water bills would be combined. Festival Hydro will undertake the project with bills being sent out monthly.

With the departure of Chad Papple the Town had a managerial shuffle. Trish McKibbin is now Director of Corporate Services and Deputy Clerk, Jed Kelly is Director of Public Works, Amy Cubberley is now Museum Curator and Jo-Anne Lounds will be Procurement and Risk Management Specialist as soon as the one water/hydro billing comes into effect.

February

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Pat Hentgen, Dennis Martinez, Tony Kubek, Howard Starkman, Wayne Norton and William Shuttleworth would be inducted this year.

The St. Marys Curling Club celebrated 150 years having being founded in 1866.

The public was asked to leave a budget meeting at the MOC so that Council could discuss, in a closed door session, a potential methane leak at 665 James Street North. After Union Gas was notified it was determined that there was no risk to the general public.

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame made their initial request to the Town for their expansion plans under their Strategic Master Plan.

In our Question of the Week, 219 people voted (out of 240 responses) in support of the Town approving the Baseball Hall of Fame’s request to the Town.

The Town announced this year’s local grant requests with the Hall of Fame receiving $5,900 for induction festivities, Goals Breakfast Program $6,000, Canada Day Parade $425, Save VIA $13,000, Stratford Perth Community Foundation $2,500, St. Marys Beautification Committee $2,500, River Rock Festival $3,009, DCVI Scholarship $1,500, United Way $5,500, and Community Meal $1,000. The Grant money is financed from the interest from the PUC Fund.

Heinz has confirmed “a tentative” closing date for the plant in St. Marys for the end of August with the loss of 214 jobs.

March

Perth South passed their budget with the tax levy up 3.26%. They also approved “Wheelie bin” garbage and recycling collection.

A family lost everything in a house fire on Road 163 (the Mitchell Road). The property was the home of Grant Haven Farms, owned by Murray and June Grant, until they sold the property to Glen Hawkins, who was renting out the house.

Town staff were given the go-ahead by Council to proceed with negotiations with the Huron-Perth Catholic School Board to relocate the Daycare Centre to Holy Name of Mary School.

Mike DeCenzo wrote a letter saying how his company Green Arc was unfairly treated by the Town. Mayor Al Strathdee called the statements by DeCenzo “unfortunate and regrettable” and said that “St. Marys is open for business”.

An appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) by Stan Clark to create three building lots on the corner of Elgin and Huron Streets was rejected.

As a result of the Town’s donation of $300,000 to the Hospital Foundation’s “Someone I Know” capital campaign, a completely re-vamped tub room was achieved.

Treasurer Jim Brown presented the Town’s budget at a public meeting announcing that the average tax increase would amount to $30 per household this year. The big capital items this year were $2.1 million for the downtown reconstruction, $2.2 million for the Emily/Glass Streets reconstruction, $588,000 for the Water Street bridge rehabilitation, $300,000 for repair of the Bell Tower at the Town Hall and $180,000 for the PRC roof replacement.

Avonbank Ag Solutions donated $100,000 to the “Someone I Know” Hospital Foundation campaign.

Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews was in St. Marys to announce a grant of $198,450 for the Water Street Bridge rehabilitation.

A break-in at St. Marys Mini Storage on James Street South is being investigated by the OPP.

The St. Marys Legion and the Army & Navy received good news when the Town announced that both organizations would not have to pay property taxes in the future.

April

The late Dan Rankin was the architect for many April Fools stories including the Hall of Fame moving to London, auditions were being held for “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an historic artifact was discovered during the downtown reconstruction, a medical marijuana dispensary is opening on Queen Street, a new trolley line is being constructed in the downtown and for business of the week, Donald Trump is building a 25 storey condominium building.

An open house was held to welcome the two Syrian refugee families to St. Marys.

Town Council officially appointed Richard Anderson as Director Emergency Services/Fire Chief, to replace former Chief Dennis Brownlee who announced his retirement.

Town CAO Brent Kittmer presented Council with a revised Procedural By-Law which would include a code of conduct for the Mayor and Councillors, a schedule for Council meetings with the Committee of the Whole meeting being replaced with Council meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday each month, and a question period for the public at the beginning of Council meetings.

CAO Kittmer also informed Council that the OPP are not in favor of using the fire truck for minor winning championship teams in town. He said that “the OPP does not share the same small town enthusiasm as we do”. He said that the issue will be addressed in the near future.

Perth South announced that waste and recycling collection will be shifting to Mondays starting in May.

The reconstruction on the downtown began with access to Tim Hortons limited to Peel Street only.

Avery Gazel purchased the building at the corner of Water and Jones Streets from Lorne Eedy. Gazel will open “Avery’s Health and Wellness” in the building and lawyers Ron White and Stephen McCotter are moving from the building to their new location at the corner of Queen and Church Streets.

Guardian Bridge Rapid Construction Inc. announced that they will be moving their business from Stratford to the Dana Plant in St. Marys. The company manufactures pre-fab fiberglass bridges and pre-fab homes and condos. They will start at the new location in mid-July.

The numbered company that purchased Arthur Meighen School from the Avon-Maitland School Board, has applied for and were granted a demolition permit.

The Town hired Laurel Davies Snyder as Culture and Economic Development Manager. The position will encompass economic development and tourism.

May

A 19 year-old male from Waterloo was arrested and charged with “Aggravated Assault” after a disturbance at Central Huron Community Centre sent a 27 year-old St. Marys male to a London hospital.

The tender for rehabilitation of the Water Street bridge was awarded to McLean Taylor in the amount of $753,156, which was the lowest bid.

Trisha McKibbin, the Town’s Director of Corporate Services outlined new strict regulations for issuing lottery licences. Under the new regulations, only “registered charities” will be issued a licence. Under these regulations the Lincolns, and the Friendship Centre are examples of those who will not be issued a licence.

Council was informed that residential property owners will receive their Property assessment Notices starting this week, according to Jennifer Lajoie, who is the Account Manager for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Lajoie told Council that assessments are updated on a “cycle” with the previous one in 2012.

Perth South say they are encouraged  by “a more liberal farmhouse severance policy” at a Perth County meeting.

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