Backyard hens, underground rehab, and traffic counter top of Smiths Falls agenda

Photo by Laurie Weir

The Town of Smiths Falls met on Monday, Jul. 8, 2024 for a regular committee of the whole where a number of issues were discussed.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know.

Council votes to move on a backyard hen plan

Smiths Falls councillors voted on July 8 during a regular committee of the whole meeting to plan for a limited pilot project for backyard hens, despite staff concerns about Avian flu and enforcement challenges.

The decision, supported by councillors Chris McGuire, Jennifer Miller, Peter McKenna, and Mayor Shawn Pankow, followed an online survey showing strong community support. Opponents, including Coun. Jay Brennan and Dawn Quinn, argued chickens belong in rural areas.

Fire Chief Rick Cheesebrough highlighted the complexities and costs of implementation. Staff will draft a zoning amendment for further discussion around the horseshoe before final approval.

Quick and dirty grind

A few streets in town will be undergoing road and sidewalk work by Cavanaugh Construct Ltd., at a cost just over $818,000. Work will start on July 22 to be finished by Sept. 30. Street work includes parts of Chambers, Bay, William, Lee Avenue, Lombard, Greig, Elmsley, McGill and Old Sly’s Road. There is quite a bit of sidewalk work this year with smaller portions of road rehabilitation, for continuity of accessibility. 

“There are so many streets in town that are in need of rehabilitation,” director Paul McMunn said. “We’re in the middle of developing a roads needs study … to budget on an annual basis.”

One block equates to about $1M worth of work, the director noted. 

Underground overhaul

About half of the 58 kilometres of sanitary sewer collection pipes are operating past their use of life, and some lengths of it will be undergoing rehabilitation. In 2024, the sewer rehabilitation program will be investing in trenchless rehabilitation of 316 metres of sanitary sewer pipe assets at four locations, with three of the locations (Lanark Street to Robinson Avenue, Sussex Street to Winnifred Street North, and Sussex Street to Thurber Street) being under railway tracks. 

Roots, cracks, holes, sumps and fractures will be fixed. Insituform Technologies Limited will be doing the work for the amount of$153,982.30 (excluding HST).

Traffic counter coming

A portable traffic counter will be coming to town at just under $10,000. The town’s Engineering Department has not conducted intersection traffic counts since 2012, when they were done manually by students recording vehicle classifications, movements, and frequency. This method, though effective, is labour-intensive and prone to human error.

Modern portable traffic counters now offer advanced features, including the ability to simultaneously record vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. These lightweight, portable devices are quickly set up, fully waterproof, and store data on a cloud server, eliminating the need for on-site data downloads and reducing the frequency of equipment handling. The Get Go Inc. was the winning bidder at $9,682.67.

Asset management plan update

An update on the town’s asset management plan was brought to council by Paul Dowber, Director of Corporate Services. 

Dowber said he considers the town’s assets as liabilities as they don’t increase in value. It’s like a vehicle, he said, as he asked how will the town maintain what it has, and what’s it going to cost?

If the town were to replace all their assets today, Dowber said it would cost just under $384 million. The annual requirement, based on the useful life of all the components, is just over $10 million, based on current value.

Bridges, water and road network are the highest ticket items. A fully sustainable asset management plan would require a 75 per cent tax increase, he said. 

A longer and slower approach would make this more affordable, “so what we do is we take into account, capital management, debt management then a reserve management.” At budget time, information will come back to council that will tie back into the asset management plan. There are still “some balls in the air,” as the plan is not complete yet.

Old Home Week task force appointment

Katie Hoffman has been appointed to the Old Home Week task force. “Staff believe she would be an asset,” said clerk Kerry Costello. Old Home Week 2025 planning is well underway and events are being planned for this much-anticipated 100 years in the making. The celebration is happening Aug. 2-9, 2025. Old Home Week happens every 25 years. 


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