Swimming barriers, cobra chickens and more: 10 things that happened at this week’s meeting of Smiths Falls council

Photos by Laurie Weir

Here are 10 things you need to know about what happened at the June 10 meeting of Smiths Falls council, including updates on heritage properties and cobra chickens.

Healing circle

The Indigenous Healing Circle is being created with painted logs and pea gravel laid in the park near the canal off Abbott Street. There was a bit of a washout of the gravel with recent rains, which put staff behind, “but we are on track to get it done for National Indigenous People’s Day (June 21). We’d like to do some sort of dedication,” Stephanie Clark said. She’s the town’s director of community services.

Staff have painted and placed four logs in the circle, with native plantings coming this week to the planter boxes that have all been created in-house.

Indigenous community members have also been consulted during the process.

Library update

Clark said there has been a delay in the library renovations but they’re on budget. The interior demolition has started and they had to manage some hazardous materials, “but nothing catastrophic,” she said.

Flagpoles coming

There are three new flag poles coming to be clustered to the left of the main entrance of town hall and they’ll “hopefully” hide the air conditioner. The two poles that are “causing issue in the front” will be removed.

Swimming barriers in place

Due to a number of complaints received, Clark said they have added barriers to the swimming area at the Murphy Building. There has been an increase in boat traffic adjacent to the swimming area, she said. The swimming barriers were placed in the water on Monday, June 10.

Seniors’ activity centre issues

Clark said they are working with the members of the Harmony Seniors Club to help address some of the issues they brought to council recently – parking, safety and storage. Clark said they will address an annual wish list “for capital repairs, items, updates and things they would like to see us address.”

Clark said staff have been working to find utilities efficiencies and to maximize comfort inside the building.

“There is no current plan to build a new facility,” she said, but a feasibility study with the Youth Arena will hopefully shed light on what they can do with a multi-use indoor space.

Favourite topic – cobra chickens!

Clark quipped that the geese have been dubbed cobra chickens, which was appropriate as they were hissing at her recently, she said.

“Our mitigation tactics are working,” she said. We have no nests on any of our parkland and no eggs. That does not mean they do not travel.”

They are living in the Parks Canada lot upstream and are coming down into Murphy Park and Centennial Park areas, she said.

“Unfortunately, we do not have passport control for them but we are trying to do some other standard mitigation stuff,” she said, “so we’re putting a trip wire back up for them. Hopefully, that will work.”

She said one of the major downfalls for the geese travelling to the swimming areas is that people are feeding them.

She would like to encourage residents to not feed the geese. “It’s not good for them. They’re not supposed to eat human food,” she said. “They’re perfectly viable in other places but it does encourage them to come to our park and that’s the general area where we’re finding people are feeding them.”

Tree giveaway

Clark said the department gave away about 1,000 free saplings to residents. About 200 left over trees were planted in town spaces, Clark said, like at the arena and in the boulevards in town.

“We’d like to give away another several hundred trees away this fall,” she said. “We’ve been working with the RVCA. They didn’t have any trees for us in the spring but we’d like to do another giveaway this fall as part of the ongoing tree canopy development to reach a five per cent increase annually.

Heritage House Museum repairs

There have been some minor repairs at the Heritage House Museum, including to the foundation which has stopped the water flow, Clark said.

There has been a new walkway installed and they’re looking to get a tender out for a roof repair.

Ice is out, grass is growing

It’s the best of time or the worst of times, Clark said, as she announced that the ice is out of the arena, and the parks are in full swing.

“We have a very long list of projects that we’re undertaking this year,” she said, including about 200 hours of mowing “because we have a lot of parkland.”

Heritage property listing gets a breather

There is a legislative change regarding heritage designations and the time required to designate properties of interest listed on the register.

Karl Grenke, Smiths Falls manager of development services, shared with council that on May 27 the province introduced Bill 200, “which did a couple of things,” he noted.

It will extend the deadline to Jan. 1, 2027, “so that’s an additional two years, not the five that was requested but two more than were there.” There are a total of 32 properties on the interest list and about 12 are outside the Heritage Conservation District. Grenke said the heritage committee will take this information and provide a report and advice to council as to which properties to prioritize and protect, and protect heritage resources.

Planning staff and consultants at Stantec held the first of two public information sessions regarding the proposed heritage conservation district study on May 30. Calls went out to the 230 property owners in the study area and the Downtown Business Improvement Area. This was to get the community’s input on what is important to them in the downtown core. About a dozen members of the public attended the meeting with focused engagement. The falls session may attract more people, Grenke noted.


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