SD&G CIP would complement, not control, townships: County CAO

County CAO Tim Simpson (left) chats with South Glengarry Mayor Ian McLeod and Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost following his presentation Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 on the county Community Improvement Plan. Simpson and other county delegates will meet with the township soon to clear up misconceptions about the county CIP plan. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

SD&G – The chief administrative officer for the United Counties says the five townships and one municipality in SD&G would retain local control over Community Improvement Plans (CIPs).

County council’s committee of the whole discussed the county CIP plan this morning (Tuesday).

The proposed county CIP is meant as “an enhancement to a local plan” and is not meant to pit one municipality against another for dollars, CAO Tim Simpson explained in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

A Community Improvement Plan (CIP) is a toolbox of different resources – such as repayable loans, grants and laddered municipal tax rebates – in order to encourage development in specific areas, defined by each municipality.

“Obviously, our budget is bigger than any of the local municipalities…allow county council to fund truly regional economic development projects that none of the local municipalities currently are funding or have the capacity to fund,” Simpson said.

The county would focus, in partnership with the townships, on brownfields, agri-tourism, roofed accommodation and abandoned or unused buildings.

At the urging of South Glengarry Community Services GM Joanne Haley last week, the council there gave the green light for staff to start budgeting for a local CIP.

During last week’s presentation, Haley characterized the county plan as not allowing an opportunity for local residents to bring improvements forward. County officials insist that’s far from the case.

The control of a Community Improvement Plan would be controlled locally. “That was never the intent (to control local CIPs) and if that was portrayed at South Glengarry’s council, I think that was portrayed falsely.”

Each township would fund its local CIP with no direction from the county, Simpson indicated. “It’s up to their council how much they want to put into those local improvements.”

Right now, only North Dundas, South Stormont and North Glengarry have CIPs.

“If you live on a main street in a hamlet and you want to improve a facade in, say, North Dundas, you’re going to be asking North Dundas council for those dollars. If you’re looking to develop an abandoned school site and a brownfield in a rural area and there’s a bigger price tag, that’s probably going to be a regional project,” Simpson said.

South Glengarry Mayor Ian McLeod endorsed the plan and is comfortable with the plan as it’s presented.

“Oh, absolutely. Even in our presentation last week, I’m thinking that the county CIP would go ahead because it’s looking maybe something a little more globally than just our municipality and the local CIP can do what’s very locally,” McLeod said.

The mayor admitted the South Glengarry presentation could have been more clear.

“I think it could have been presented slightly different…that they work hand in hand…like other aspects of economic development,” he said.

Delegates from the county plan to meet with South Glengarry in the next week or so to clear the air and cover off any misconceptions about the county CIP.

With direction from county council to proceed, Simpson said they want to develop the policies over the next couple of months in time for December budgeting.

Necessary approvals would happen between January and June 2018 “with a view to flowing some money maybe in a year’s time (2019).” The proposal has to go through an extensive public consultation process.