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South Bruce seeks funding to drain Mildmay pond

By Pauline Kerr
Advance-Times Editor

The Mildmay pond’s days are numbered, if South Bruce’s grant application is accepted.

The pond is scenic, but the dam holding it is not in good shape, Adam Weishar, South Bruce’s operations manager, told South Bruce council last week.

He had previously recommended council seek funding under the federal government’s Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative, for a project involving the Weiler Pond Dam and bridge structure, to address what were described as “urgent health and safety concerns.”

Council passed a motion Dec. 18, 2012, to seek funding for the project. In a verbal report to council Jan. 8, he said that’s still his recommendation. If the dam gives way – and he said it could do so at any time – it would have a serious negative impact on structures and property downstream from the pond – such as Highway 9.

He said it would cost in the range of $400,000 to remove the dam, and $1 million if council decided to rebuild it.

Saugeen Conservation has stated there is no environmental reason for the dam to be there.

Coun. David Wood noted returning the area to its natural state would actually improve fish habitat.

Weishar said economics should guide council’s decision. “It makes little sense to replace (the pond)… It’s nice to have a pond there, but in these economic times… we’re better off spending a half million to remove it rather than a million to replace it, and then there’s the cost of maintaining it.”

He noted there’s enough information on costs, etc., to put in an application for funding for either project.

Deputy Mayor Don Schnurr said the fire department in Mildmay would like the pond to stay – it makes a good backup that they could pump from, he said.

However, Mayor Bill Goetz said there have been complaints about the “stench in the summer.” Draining the pond would certainly resolve that problem.

Decommissioning and removing the dam will require an environmental assessment.

Committee appointments unchanged

Committee appointments for 2012 will remain in place for the time being, after council deferred passing the 2013 appointments bylaw.

At the Dec. 18, 2012 meeting, Mayor Bill Goetz had presented a verbal report on a few changes he intended to make to the municipal committee appointments. One involved replacing Coun. Carl Zettel as South Bruce’s representative on the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority board of directors. The person Goetz wants appointed in place of Zettel does not sit on council. The 2013 appointments bylaw was among those presented at the Jan. 8 council meeting, but council was pretty well unanimous (except for the mayor) in not being prepared to pass it. The 2012 bylaw remains in place until new one is passed.

Zettel told council he would like to remain on the SVCA board in order to complete some important matters, particularly the hiring of the new SVCA CEO. He prepared and presented a written report to council.

SVCA board chair Bill Scriven has written a letter to South Bruce council asking that Zettel be allowed to continue. In an interview, Scriven said Zettel has been a valuable board member and currently chairs the SVCA board’s parks committee and sits on the executive.

CAO Sharon Chambers said she’d also received a letter from Morris-Turnberry on the matter.

Zettel has represented both Morris-Turnberry and Howick townships, as well as South Bruce, on the board.

Mayor Bill Goetz told council he felt he’d “handled it properly,” and stressed that the final authority for making committee and board appointments rests with him, and he was doing what he thought was “best for the municipality.”

Deputy Mayor Don Schnurr said he liked having a council member on the SVCA board. He subsequently added, “I don’t think council wants to take the authority away from the mayor, but Carl did a good job and I appreciate the information he brought back.”

Coun. Margie Bates said she agreed with Schnurr and wondered why the

SVCA board representative had been changed.

After considerable discussion on the proper process to deal with the matter, including a suggestion from the CAO that additional discussion could take place in closed session since it involved an identifiable individual, council deferred the 2013 bylaw until the Jan, 22 meeting.

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