By Chet Greason
The residents of Perth South have wasted no time in taking advantage of Perth County’s new policy that allows limited severances for farm houses on rural properties.
The new rules were implemented towards the end of 2016 after a long and drawn-out debate over the course of several years. Since then, Perth South has sent at least 10 applications upward to the County’s Land Division Committee, according to Clerk Lizet Scott.
At the meeting of Council on Tuesday, Feb. 6, three more were added to that list: One property in the Gore of Downie, one in Blanshard on Line 6, and one on the border with Middlesex County.
The severance applications are presented to local governments- in this case Perth South- who have the opportunity to provide comment. They are then forwarded along to Perth County’s Land Division Committee who confirms, denies, or demands changes to the applications. Should the application be okayed by the Committee, it is then passed back to the Township so they can sign a zoning bylaw amendment.
The property in the Gore was passed with little discussion. The property on the border with Middlesex was in contrivance with the severance rules as the owners of the property live 15 km down the road in Middlesex County, (the rules state property owners who sever their land must reside in Perth County.)
However, there is precedence for circumventing this rule. The Township of Perth East first allowed it to be done, which was an unexpected move as Perth East was the Township most opposed to allowing farm severances in the first place. (Perth South, given their lack of an urban centre, was the initiative’s biggest proponent.)
There was also some concern that the Blanshard property may be too big, as there are stipulations regarding how big a severed parcel of land can be. At issue with the Blanshard property is a geothermal system that extends the length of the parcel. Council noted a barn and silo may need to be taken down and a solar panel relocated in order for the property to pass.
Councillor Sam Corriveau expressed some concern that severed parcels were getting larger and larger.
“What’s too big?” he asked. “Where do we draw the line?”
That will be a question for the Land Division Committee to decide.
Grant money for Main Streets
The Township of Perth South will see a slight boost to its income when it receives a funding allocation of up to $39,271 thanks to the provincial government’s Main Street Revitalization Initiative, part of a three-year, $40 million Main Street Enhancement Fund.
The initiative, according to a report from the provincial government, is aimed at strengthening small businesses “in downtown and main street areas and enhance(ing) the digital presence and capabilities of small businesses through increased access to digital tools like e-commerce.”
Perth South’s treasurer, Rebecca Clothier, announced the grant at council’s meeting on Tuesday. She admitted she was surprised at the amount the township was slated to receive, given that the Town of St. Marys is set to receive up to $42,197. Clothier said she had understood the amount would be determined based on population, and expected St. Marys to receive much more money given its higher population.
However, population was only part of the equation. There was also a base number that every community received. As well, communities with populations under 25,000 received an adjustment so their funding would not be unduly limited.
Clothier said she would report back to Council once it was better understood what the Township can and cannot spend the money on. She also noted that the funding is a full, one-time grant with no repayments or cost-matching required.
Perth South made public Council’s remuneration for 2017 at Tuesday’s meeting. The totals below are comprised of three figures noted in parentheses: Remuneration and benefits, remuneration for meetings, and expenses.
Mayor Robert Wilhelm: $13,399.20 ($6,764.96 + $4,900.00 + $1,734.24)
Councillor Melinda Zurbrigg: $11,820.39 ($3,538.50 + $6,725.00 + $1,556.89)
Councillor Bill Jeffrey: $10,494.72 ($3,458.79 + $5,090.00 + $1,945.93)
Councillor James Aitcheson: $9,332.84 ($4,396.00 + $4,745.00 + $191.84)
Councillor Stuart Arkett: $8,374.96 ($3,404.60 + $4,240.00 + $730.36)
Councillor Cathy Barker: $7,737.68 ($3,374.06 + $3,645.00 + $718.62)
Councillor Sam Corriveau: $7,426.64 ($3,389.73 + $3,750.00 + $286.91)