Posted by Timothy FitzGerald on May 13, 2019
 
Its been four months since Mayor Kristal Chopp and the new Council took office.  Her Worship shared with us “what’s on her plate” around the Council table.

Kristal is an accomplished graduate from both the Richard Ivey School of Business and McMaster University holding an MBA plus engineering and law degrees. On the practical side, she is an Air Canada pilot on A737 aircraft.

The Mayor spoke well outlining major issues facing the County today. “Straight talk” - looming infrastructure spending is keeping the Mayor up at night – examples: $10M for a bridge on the Long Point Causeway, $2M+ for remediation of leaking gas wells in the vicinity of Silver Hill, the need to expand the water treatment plant capacity in Port Dover $? (current treatment capacity at 3,000 cu. meters is insufficient to service peak demand of 5,000 cu. metres should the water tower ever go offline by reason of service or failure). The list goes on.

 Strategically Norfolk County is only 16,000 sq. kms. Yet an infrastructure assessment report shows 230 structures rated for risk of significant expenditure or near future replacement (my apologies to the Mayor if I didn’t get this quite right). However, the message is simple - Norfolk’s situation is non-enviable compared to other municipalities.

Of funding – Ontario announced a new $30 billion infrastructure fund – one of the primary tasks for the new CAO Harry Schlange is to go to Queen’s Park and get Norfolk’s share of that funding. If “The  Hub”  funding can be secured from these provincial and federal counterpart sources  it could proceed – otherwise it would seem to be a non-starter.

Questions from Rotarians:
The Legacy Fund, reserves and taxes – interest rates have been low, if the Legacy Fund is not earning a decent return should we consider spending part of it on infrastructure repairs and replacements – in essence a better return? The new CAO is currently having meetings about that question. But its not that simple! The existence of Legacy Fund gives the County a better Standard and Poor’s Rating which lowers the County’s other borrowing costs. The County’s tendering and bid bonding requirements will and need to be reviewed. An example was cited of a recent instance where 40 tender documents were picked up for a project but only 2 tenders were received –the question to be understood and resolved is why so few contractors are bidding on Norfolk projects? So No!, the County will not be blindly turning on the spending taps. Rather, the new CAO, the Mayor/Council and staff are being tasked to get the County’s spending and tendering processes in order (in the writer’s words – ensure value for money spent).

The Misner Dam – similar to the “The Hub”, there is ongoing activity, but the looming infrastructure funding  is the prime issue now.

Painting your building in Port Dover – Kristal intends to do this when some decent weather arrives.

Regardless - Council and Committee meetings, attending to seemingly endless information requests, appearances and not withstanding duties as a pilot, have all kept Kristal stretched to the limits. Asked if she will proceed with her property as a craft brewery – response, not any time soon!

Mayor Chopp thank you for spending time with us today.