January 25, 2018

LOOKING BACK – Erin running low on coal

From the Advocate – 100 years ago (1918)
Erin running low on coal
Messrs Scott and Ramsden were fortunate in getting in two cars of coal recently – one furnace and the other nut coal. It relieved the situation here, which had reached the limit. Last month was the coldest December in 46 years, forcing closure of schools, and stores were closing early. In many homes there is nothing but wood left and very little of that. Both our dealers are doing their best to secure coal. The blockage of the railway, owing to the second storm again on Monday last, no doubt has much to do with the delay.
From the Advocate – 35 years ago (1983)
Direct long distance comes to town
Direct distance-dialing (DDD) for Erin (833) and Hillsburgh (855) is on schedule, said W.C. Salmon, area manager for Bell Canada. Subscribers in the Erin area will be able to call long distance beginning Jan. 25 without having to give their numbers to the operator in Orangeville, and Hillsburgh subscribers will begin the service on Jan. 27. The equipment called the automatic number identification (ANI) is now being installed.
DDD will be available for all subscribers, except those on a four-party line. Erin (833) will get the additional service of directory assistance by dialing 411, and repair services by dialing 611. Hillsburgh will get these services at a later date. Distribution of the 1983 phone book begins next week.
From the Advocate – 25 years ago (1993)
Village to meet Township over subdivision
Erin Village is getting ready to take on Erin Township concerning the surrounding municipality’s new official plan and an amendment that allows a large residential subdivision near the village. Village council is preparing a presentation, and may consult the ministry of municipal affairs, but Reeve Terry Mundell would not reveal the village position.
The citizens group Securing Erin’s Environment (S.E.E.) has expressed concerns to the ministry about the proposed Gulia subdivision. The township has approved the first two phases of the 89-lot development on 107 acres just south of Erin village. A third phase may bring the number of houses up to about 128.
The Erin-Hillsburgh Midgets won the championship at the South Muskoka Minor Hockey tournament in Gravenhurst on January 10, 1993. The squad defeated Niagara 7-1, Port Perry 4-1 and Stouffville 2-1. Team members are, L-R in back row: Manager Daryle Andrae, Brent Donnelly, Josh Bell, John Higginbottom, Tim Hebbes, Richard McBride, Travis Sharpe, Danny Swanston and Coach Brian Hebbes. In the middle are Jesse River, Chad Hughes, Jeff Corbett, Derek Hofricter, Jake Rivers and Tyson Briden. In the front are Jason Slater, Scott Corbett and Adam Reed.
From the Advocate – 20 years ago (1998)

Seniors’ drop-in centre proposed

A unique opportunity exists, which could be a godsend to seniors in Erin. The Seniors Committee of EWAG approached Council in December with a request that 109 Main Street in Erin, the former Village of Erin Municipal Office, be approved for use as a Seniors’ Centre. The building is close to parking, a drug store, banks, seniors’ apartment buildings, the post office and many stores.
The centre would provide social activities, and continue to provide meeting space for groups such as the Erin Horticultural Society. Studies now show that seniors who maintain an active lifestyle both mentally and physically are able to live a much better quality of life until late in years. The program will demonstrate that this is a community which values and celebrates the achievement of its elder citizens, not one which ignores and devalues them.

Consultation on declining school enrolment

The public school board is starting a community consultation process on declining enrolment, with Ross R. MacKay School in Hillsburgh projected to drop to just 64 students – 32 per cent of the school’s capacity – in five years if there is no residential growth.
A public engagement workshop will be held Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Erin Public School gym to explain the Upper Grand District School Board’s Long Term Accommodation Plan (LTAP) Background Report.
It’s one of five workshops planned in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin. There will be additional workshops in May, and a final report to board trustees in June.
A new wastewater system is considered crucial to reversing the 
enrolment decline at Erin Public School and Ross R. MacKay School.
The LTAP report sets out two scenarios for the three public elementary schools in the Town of Erin, one with substantial residential growth starting in five years, and the other without that growth. Five years is the earliest point at which construction of a sewer system could start, supporting future housing subdivisions.
“This is only the first step in the process. No recommendations around school closures have even been considered at this time,” said UGDSB Trustee Kathryn Cooper.
“The purpose of this meeting is to examine the background document which speaks to the current declining populations of students in the region, the condition of schools and potential for growth in the community.”
A Public Information Centre on wastewater will be held by the town on Friday, Feb. 2 in the Centre 2000 theatre, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a presentation at 7 p.m. There will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and make comments.
A series of reports analyzing aspects of the wastewater project can be downloaded from the wastewater section of the town website, erin.ca.
The town’s three public elementary schools have a 2017 combined population of 839. Brisbane has 403 students (90 per cent of capacity), Erin Public School (EPS) has 346 (65 per cent of capacity) and MacKay has 90 (45 per cent of capacity). The low utilization rate at EPS is partly because it is located in a former high school.
Assuming that the town will have the sewage capacity to support new housing in five years, Brisbane is projected to reach 107 per cent of capacity (477 students) in 10 years, EPS to reach 79 per cent (423 students) and MacKay to reach 83 per cent (165 students), for a total elementary population of 1,065.
“It is not known when the Town of Erin will have sewage capacity to support housing development,” says the draft LTAP. The alternate projection without substantial growth shows the total elementary population declining to 756 in five years, and then rebounding slightly to 771 in 10 years.
Utilization at Brisbane would continue to rise, but more slowly, reaching 94 per cent in five years and 101 per cent in 10 years. EPS would decline to 51 per cent in five years and to 47 per cent in 10 years.
 MacKay would decline in five years to 64 students (junior kindergarten to grade 6) with a utilization rate of 32 per cent. The rate would rise slightly to 35 per cent in 10 years.
To get more information on the LTAP process or download a copy of the background document, go to ugdsb.ca/board/planning/long-term-accommodation-plan/

Town still won’t release termination costs

Mayor Al Alls says the Town of Erin is justified in not releasing the total of severance payments to terminated municipal employees over a five-year period.
“We’re doing it for legitimate reasons, to protect the privacy of individuals,” said Alls. The town is also concerned that the information could harm their position in legal proceedings, resulting in a cost.
Local media have requested the combined severance payments from January 2012 to August 2017, arguing that the release would not enable members of the public to know how much was paid to any individual former employee.
The town has received legal advice and decided not to release the figure, even though the County of Wellington and all other lower tier municipalities have been willing to do so. The issue has been appealed to the Ontario Privacy Commissioner.
Alls said that the town would only release the information if the commissioner orders it to do so.
There has been a major town staff turnover in recent years, including most senior managers. Some employees have been terminated, but some have left under other circumstances such as retirement. So not all would be normally entitled to a severance payment.
In a letter, resident Jane Vandervliet complained about how difficult it has been to get staff cost information from the town, or to get an enquiry about budgeting for severances onto the council agenda.
“Surely taxpayers have a right to know what such personnel upheavals are costing them,” she said.
“Isn't the Council the go-to place for taxpayers to direct such concerns?
“Last June I had attempted to get the Town of Erin to give me the severance totals for the past five years. I gave up as their buffaloing tactics worked. The reason I wanted the severance totals was so that I would be able to monitor the Town budget for employee wages and benefit totals.
“These assumed severance payouts, with the departure of so many long-term employees, would be extremely significant to a low population municipality like Erin.”

Erin Town Hall to become an art gallery

The Town of Erin will provide a dedicated space in the Town Hall lobby for residents to display a diverse array of art.
The ‘Art in the Hall’ program will accept submissions from artists of all ages, and display work in various media. The designated space is directly outside the council chambers, with a new display every season.
“This is a great opportunity for local artists,” said Mayor Al Alls. “We are building a strong and vibrant community, supporting local artists, small businesses and emerging talent.”
An application form and guidelines are available at erin.ca. Artists under the age of 18 will need permission from a parent or guardian. All those who reside, work, study or teach in Erin are eligible, but artists who reside in the town are ultimately preferred. There is no charge.
Submissions will be screened by an Artwork Selection Committee in the order they arrive, and it is expected 10-12 could be displayed at the same time. Artists can provide sales and contact information with their work.
“The selection committee will not be assessing the artistic content or merit of the artwork, only verifying the innocuous nature of the work and subject matter,” the guidelines state.
“Artwork must not include any indication or evocation of an offensive, insulting or distasteful nature, including but not limited to racism, violence, aggression, sex and politics.”
Application packages, including photos of existing art and descriptions, can be submitted by email to townhallart@erin.ca or in person at the municipal office.
The application deadline for the spring term is February 19.

Erin may enforce idling bylaw on 124

The Town of Erin is considering whether to enforce its idling control bylaw, in an attempt to force truckers to shut down their engines while they go into the Tim Hortons restaurant at the north end of Erin village.
Town council received a motion from its environment committee on Jan. 16 requesting that idling control signs be erected on a section of County Road 124 to educate drivers about the bylaw, and that “after a reasonable amount of time”, the town bylaw officer be directed to issue tickets.
Truckers often leave their engines running while they go into Tim Hortons.

The motion initiated by Heidi Matthews says highway trucks are breaking the bylaw “regularly and routinely on a daily basis”.
Council decided it needed more “clarity” on the matter, since the town cannot erect signs on a county road. A decision has been deferred until after Mayor Al Alls discusses the matter with county officials.
CAO Nathan Hyde said signs are not required for the bylaw to be enforced, since it applies in all areas of the town.
There was also discussion, but no decision, about whether trucks should be allowed to park (with engines off) on that section of road.
“I’ve been after the county, from the roads perspective, because I’m getting more concerned about the number of trucks parked on either side of that road,” said Mayor Al Alls.
“The shoulders are slowly sliding in towards the ditch. It also blocks good vision going around the corner there. It’s a screwed up intersection.”
Councillor Matt Sammut said he tends to agree with the motion, saying that idling “does impact the environment”. Councillor Rob Smith said if diesel engines cool off, they are more difficult to start up.
The idling control by-law, enacted in 2009, says it is illegal to allow the engine of a stationary vehicle to run for more than three minutes. There is a range of exceptions, but unless a truck must stay running to operate a refrigeration or heating system for cargo, idling outside a restaurant is normally not allowed.
The Municipal Act allows local regulation of matters that affect health and safety. The Erin bylaw asserts that vehicle emissions cause air pollution, resulting in a risk to respiratory health.