Minden Hills’ outsourced planners impact the budget
Minden Hills will continue its contract with a Peterborough-based planning company but will pay far more for its services.
With the City Planning Director position still vacant, Minden Hills renewed its contract with DM Wills and Associates Ltd., which has been providing planning services since April 2021.
The contract was extended by 12 months.
The new agreement, approved by Council on June 30, includes a total hourly rate that is 66 percent higher than an original contract.
A table of fees shows five positions in 2021 totaling $490 per hour.
For the next year, DM Wills has increased hourly rates and added new positions totaling $735 an hour.
DM Wills billed the community $138,576.27 for the first six months as Minden Hills planner after Ian Clendening left in Spring 2021.
Clendening wasn’t included in the Sunshine List, meaning he was making less than $100,000 a year.
“We have to provide planning services. We are actively recruiting internal staff,” said CAO Trisha McKibbin.
Designers are responsible for processing highway permit applications, minor deviation applications, policy development, site plan agreements, and planning consultations.
count. Bob Carter asked if the agreement could be terminated if Minden Hills acquired a planner.
McKibbin said the contract can be terminated with 15 days’ notice.
Neither McKibbin nor Mayor Brent Devolin could be reached for further comment before the deadline.
Devolin criticized provincial legislation that required the municipality to delegate site plan approval of building projects to the CAO and the mayor.
All development requires site plans, drawings showing the physical location of the development, any driveways, parking lots, landscape features, fences, and associated community services.
Mayor criticizes rules
Ontario’s Bill 109 More Homes for Everyone Act, introduced this spring, changes provincial planning requirements to expedite development, including permitting site plans.
“This bill goes over the limit for me. It…is disrespectful of local government processes,” Devolin said.
He disagreed on how the rules mean that building permits can be issued without the council viewing or discussing the site plan application.
The site plan approval is a prerequisite for obtaining a building permit.
Carter said: “This eliminates the need for them to get through the council. Things can come by and shovels can be in the ground before the public notices. One could wake up in the morning with an excavator on the property next door. That’s probably an underfunded consequence of that. I hesitate to make this change.”
McKibbin said the community is bound by the new rules.
“The challenge is that provincial politics has determined that they are no longer to comment on the council,” she said.
The Ontario government claims the new legislation aims to cut “bureaucracy” that impedes development in Ontario’s communities.
Delegating approval of the site plan to staff rather than the council will “bring the policy out of planning while ensuring that the objectives of site plan control are fully met,” according to a policy brief from the province’s Bill 109.