BRUCE COUNTY – The county’s planning and development committee has approved a six-month pilot program – the creation of the temporary role of regional support economic development co-ordinator.

CAO Derrick Thomson explained the concept came from discussions with the lower tiers.

County Coun. Steve Hammell, Arran-Elderslie, chair of the planning and development committee, said, “This could be something amazing and very helpful.”

While the ideal would be full-time people, the initiative comes at a time when some municipalities are without an economic development person.

“This may lead to something really good,” said County Coun. Milt McIver, Northern Bruce Peninsula.

In response to a question about whether Arran-Elderslie and Northern Bruce Peninsula are continuing their recruiting efforts for an economic development person, Thomson said, “It’s a pilot project … we need to bob and weave to get the most bang for our buck … we need to do something.”

Don Murray, Huron-Kinloss, asked about municipalities that border other counties, and was told that will be looked at.

County looks at options regarding CAs

A report presented by planner Monica Walker-Bolton offered three options changing the fee schedule for planning services provided by Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (and the other two conservation authorities in Bruce County).

Walker-Bolton said Grey Sauble is seeking to increase its fees. Options are status quo, which includes “continuing the conversation with the conservation authorities, examine a business case for developing expertise within the county to take over responsibility for natural heritage and water review matters, or seek outside expertise through an RFP process.

Conservation authorities (CAs) in the county have been designated to represent provincial interest for natural hazard management but have been providing natural heritage and water resources comments by agreement.

As stated in the report, Grey Sauble has been operating its planning review services at below cost recovery, and would like to change that to a full cost accounting approach, so there’s no impact to the levy.

Warden Janice Jackson, South Bruce Peninsula, said, “I would prefer to move away from CAs and put out an RFP … we have to do something; it’s getting increasingly difficult to work with some of these CAs.”

The sentiment was shared by the Huron-Kinloss representative on the committee. Don Murray said he’d like to “see something done at the county level, to get things back in line.”

County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, said his municipality had investigated other options, found them more expensive, and so signed an agreement with Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority.

“I support it (option two – developing county expertise). It’s an excellent idea,” said County Coun. Chris Peabody, Brockton.

The consensus is dissatisfaction with the services of CAs.

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