2012 is rapidly drawing to a close as we write this newsletter. The entire SEPO executive extends our collective thanks for our members’ support and we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season with friends and family. Many challenges face us in 2013 and above all we extend best wishes for happiness, prosperity and good health.
- lead collective action in support of the long term affordable enjoyment of our properties in an unspoiled natural environment.
- · encourage responsible attitudes for sustaining the high quality of life on our St. Edmunds properties.
YEAR IN REVIEW
The mandate of the SEPO executive is to seek solutions to concerns and issues that have been raised by our members. We do this via the membership renewal process and the two public forum meetings that we hold each May and September in the Tobermory Community Hall.
Property Taxes – The number one concern expressed by our members continues to be the ever increasing property tax burden levied against property owners. We have been openly critical of our Municipal Council in their failure to reign in spending and to seek a more equitable means of generating revenues beyond property taxes which currently make up 93% of the revenue pool. SEPO along with two other ratepayer groups made formal presentations to Council on the 2012 draft budget last March, arguing specifically for no tax increase in 2012, which we believed to be attainable. While our collective recommendations were taken under advisement, Council voted four in favour, one against the budget as presented by staff with an unacceptable 6% increase!
As the 2013 budget process begins, we will not give up. Our resolve is to engage earlier and collaborate more effectively with other ratepayer groups.
Waste Management and Dumpsters – This is the second most frequent concern raised by our members. We covered this topic in great detail a year ago, particularly the ongoing theme of the proposed removal of the dumpsters. The fact remains that refuse removal by use of dumpsters, when managed properly, can be as efficient, cost effective and as conducive to reaching the recycled waste targets set by the Municipality and the Province.
A well written article in the Peninsula Press (August, 2012) by Elyse Menerey, summer student assigned to the Waste Diversion Committee, reiterated the key issues with dumpsters that most of us who use dumpsters are well aware of. Clearly there continues to be ongoing abuse in what trash goes into the dumpsters as well as what gets dumped around them.
The article concluded with a solicitation for residents to complete a survey on waste management and diversion in our community.
We took the opportunity at our September meeting to hand out the survey forms. Eighteen completed surveys were returned after the meeting. Of those completed, 12 were from seasonal residents and 6 from permanent residents. Of the 12 seasonal residents, eight use dumpsters and four have curb side pickup. Only one is not satisfied with the current method of waste removal. Of the permanent residents, five have curb side pick up and one uses dumpster. All are satisfied with the current method of waste removal.
All responses pointed to the need for the Municipality to devote more effort towards educating the public in proper waste diversion practices, to establishing regulations that are enforceable by penalties for improper dumping and to provide a means such as closed circuit cameras for monitoring the dumpster sites. These points are consistent with the recommendations that SEPO has made in the past, both in public forum and to Council. To date, Council has, for unexplained reasons, resisted implementing rate payer recommendations for improved managing of garbage collection with the use of dumpsters; it appears that some staff and certain Council members want garbage collection using dumpsters to fail.
Community Projects – Medical Building – The Medical Facility is complete. Funds raised throughout the community were in excess of $300k. In addition, donations of time, material, labour and equipment exceeded expectations. The result is a facility that will serve the community for generations to come. SEPO contributed $1500 to the fund and members played a big part in this project.
Questions raised at the September meeting focused on who can use the facility. At present it is available only for patients rostered to Family Health team physicians. All others must travel to the Lion’s Head hospital and be treated in emergency services. To change this will require the collective efforts of the community to lobby for change, and the issues are complex. Dr Harpur wrote about some of these complexities in a series of articles over the summer in the Tobermory Press.
It was questioned that, given the inability of non- rostered patients to use the facility, why support it financially? Several reasons were offered:
- The presence of a medical facility in a community has a positive effect on property values.
- The construction of a new facility, especially one with the quality of construction that we have built, will be here for generations to come.
- The old facility had a limited life cycle and, if we hadn’t built new, our community could have lost all medical presence.
- Seasonal residents (cottagers / property owners) have a vested interest in the community. Many will become permanent residents upon retirement and the facility will be there for their use at that time.
- The project was built under a registered charity. Many of us support charities throughout the year. Why not a local charity with no overhead or administrative costs and a very visible result.
Big Tub Light Restoration – This became a community project following the announcement by the Federal Government last year that this heritage icon, along with many other lighthouses across Canada, was to become redundant. A petition to preserve Big Tub Light as a heritage site was launched late last Fall and by Spring the restoration requirements and funding needs were established. Property owners, visitors and businesses responded with donations of money, materials and time. Work began in September and the restoration was complete by the end of November.
The current custodian of the site is the Friends of the Bruce District Parks. In future, ownership of the site will likely transfer to the Municipality with oversight and care remaining in the hands of Friends of the Bruce District Parks.
Looking Ahead – The coming year promises to be more challenging than 2012 with new and ongoing issues, particularly the 2013 Municipal budget. The province wide 2012 MPAC assessment of all properties has resulted in an average residential property increase in our municipality of 3.65% for each year, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Water front property assessed values, in some instances, have increased by double digits with no apparent pattern. Municipal staff and certain members of council will be tempted “to stay the course” by using this 3.65% increase as a starting point for devising the 2013 budget. This is unacceptable and unrealistic, at a time when property values are declining and properties for sale are remaining unsold due to a lack of available buyers. Simply, a growing number of people have less money to spend!
SEPO will aggressively lobby the Municipal administration and Council to take a fresh approach to calculating the 2013 budget with a cap of 0% increase. This target is readily attainable through better management and planning.
MPAC – 2012 Property Assessment notices were mailed out to all property owners across Ontario. For many property owners in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula[D1] , MPAC is a dreaded acronym that is synonymous with ever increasing property taxes. Following a scathing report by Ontario’s Ombudsman, it is worth noting that, in contrast to previous years, the onus is on MPAC to establish how your property’s assessed value was arrived at. The message has gone out to all MPAC regional offices that interactions with property owners are to be a positive and open experience. Have you logged on to the MPAC website “My Property”?
There are numerous inconsistencies in the property assessments throughout the municipality. SEPO encourages all property owners to challenge all assessments that they feel are inequitable. You are the customer and MPAC has a responsibility to explain and to justify how your assessment was arrived at.
The BruceCounty website www.brucecounty.on.ca has an interactive map, which presently has the previous 2008 assessment and tax information. It is useful when comparing assessment increases for other properties with your property.
Membership – A new membership year begins January 1st. We need your continued support and help to bring on new members. Please complete the enclosed 2013 registration form with your valued comments and payment, and mail to:
SEPO, PO Box 152, Tobermory, ON., N0H 2R0.
We would also like to give special thanks to John Bainbridge, our Deputy Mayor, for keeping us informed in layman terms on Municipal developments via his blog site: firstname.lastname@example.org. We highly recommend that you tune in to this site and offer your comments.
2011 – 2013 SEPO EXECUTIVE
President Udo Nixdorf Directors Jack Schenk
Vice-President David Almack Bob Wilson
Secretary Rob Davis Bill Wright
Treasurer Jace Weir John Zych
MEETINGS IN 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
9:00 – 11:00 A.M. – Tobermory Community Hall
Annual General Meeting
Saturday, August 31, 2013
9:00 – 11:00 A.M. – Tobermory Community Hall
VISIT US ON THE WEB at www.sepo.ca
To find us, “Google” St. Edmunds Property Owners or sepo
[D1]Insert a comma after Peninsula