Mayor’s Update (December 6, 2019) + Broadband Assessment Information

Council has been working together for a year now and has created and maintained a respectful and positive working arrangement. Although there is not agreement on all things, all of the time, Council continues to work together effectively.

It has been an interesting year, and we continue learning as we move forward, recognizing that we have much work yet to do in order to fulfill the range of things we want to accomplish.

Council has maintained a positive working relationship with the Administration Team, and find that they are productive and work well together in accomplishment of their duties. It is the responsibility of Council to provide direction and oversight. It is not Council’s role to get involved in the day to day functions of the Municipality. We thank the entire staff for their efforts and hard work.

As well, there are other external issues that we are facing of which we have no control over… this takes time to deal with and can really add to the frustrations. This time and money could be better spent on other important things we want to do.

In terms of the Strategic Plan, for the most part the Consultant has concluded the outreach to all of the stakeholders, the research has been completed, and the draft recommendations are underway. There were some very interesting observations from various sectors, and overall, the residents, including the Temagami First Nation (TFN) are willing to work together in a respectful manner to advance opportunities for the creation of jobs and economic growth. They are on target to provide Council with some of the findings in December. We are looking forward to the completion of the Strategic plan, as this will provide the focus we need going forward…stay tuned!!

The study dealing with Broadband has now been received and was presented to Council and the TFN. This report was jointly funded between the Municipality and the TFN. The two communities were seeking to establish an affordable, ubiquitous and scalable broadband network to enhance connectivity within the region and improve access to a wider global network. Part of this initiative, commissioned by the two communities was a study to research, define and implement a solution that will improve the availability of services to the communities and industries to increase the economic diversity in the region. The report outlined and “ground truthed” our visible broadband infrastructure connecting the communities and the network within each. There is no question that a large broadband gap exists. Public participation in the survey for the study was high and we appreciate your participation.

The recommendations noted in the report were as follows:

* Discuss local distribution with Ontera/Bell;
* Take the lead on any future funding applications, but attempt to broaden participation with neighbouring communities;
* Expand to include other communities;
* Seek service provider partners;
* Review wireless (Radio Frequency) options to optimize coverage in the lake community areas;
* Consider creating a Regional ISP or partnering;
* Secure a resource to monitor regulatory and service providers.

A copy of the presentation to Council can be found here: Temagami Council Presentation – Phase One Broadband Assessment (November 4, 2019).

We attended the “Canada’s Rural and Remote Conference” in North Bay. We did learn what some of the other rural communities are doing and had the opportunity to discuss our situation with some of the Providers with whom we could partner. A lot of our current infrastructure is owned by Bell and moving forward will depend on how successfully we can work with them to enhance what they have to offer, or allow access to their infrastructure in order that we could build what is needed. Working with Temagami First Nation is another positive, as they are already moving forward with enhancing their services. We can learn a lot from them and tie into some of the things they are accomplishing. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commissions (CRTC) has recently announced their second call for applications under the Broadband Fund… We hope to use the information from our report to see if we can access this funding opportunity. We will be meeting with our Consultant and other Partners to try to position ourselves to take full advantage of this program. We are also attempting to meet with representatives from Bell, to discuss our needs and plans.

Council has been receiving regular budget variance reports, as well as projections based on these reports and expected activity to the end of the year. Apart from the added project (the retrofit done on ditches in Temagami North), the Municipality is on pace to end the year with a small surplus. A number of years ago, Council established a policy that would transfer surplus funds to capital reserves. Council reviews reserve balances during the annual budget deliberation. As for the added project, as part of the year-end balance review or the 2020 budget, if not resolved, Council will review options to fund this much needed project. However this works out, Council remains committed to having 2020 tax increases as close to the rate of inflation as possible.

We have set our 2020 Budget Guidelines, and once again will host public meetings in the Municipality to review our financial position and budget proposals prior to approval. We encourage all ratepayers to attend these meetings in order to be better informed and to make your opinions heard. We are looking to try and have an approved budget completed by the end of March 2020.

Set out below are some of the other areas of interest we have been working on:

– A number of grants have been applied for. We are optimistic that some of these will be approved in the near future.
– The switch to the Vadim Financial System has been ongoing and this has allowed us to streamline our accounting processes.
– We continue to work on the updating of our policies and bylaws as required.
– Dealing with the issue of the North Lagoon we have submitted a proposal to the MOE for a UV system to deal with our effluent issues. This is a much cheaper solution than the Rotating Biofilter system proposed in the past. We submitted the plans in September and await MOE’s response, and will be applying for appropriate funding soon.
– We are currently dealing with new firms selected for Engineering and Planning Services. We now are in a better position to start our Official Plan Review, deal with second units and to begin the work needed for a new Waste Management Plan.
– We continue to work with the TFN on a number of issues involving the Temagami Landing, Briggs Dump and the Access Road.
– We need to finalize the downtown revitalization grant ($38,500) which has to be implemented by the end of March 2020. This project has been a bit of a challenge getting consensus on a final plan. Our 1st choice is to build a Pavilion for events on the waterfront, however we will need approval for an extension to complete this.
– The Ambulance Station requires some repairs which are currently being looked into.
– An intern has also been hired to help with some of our special projects.
– We have assisted a few local individuals/businesses who have requested assistance in seeking government grants to assist with some of their project/plans.

– Marten River has a “new to them” fire truck. It is a used truck from the North Bay Fire Department and hopefully will provide us some time to plan for the purchase of a new one.

– We are in the process of finalizing an Encroachment bylaw. Information on this was sent out and we have received some feedback. This new by-law will allow us the ability to better manage municipality property where public use has been allowed.

Overall, we feel that we have been busy moving our agenda forward.

“Could we have done more?” That will have to be judged by others. It is hoped that you have received appropriate information and updates on Council activity, and are satisfied with our efforts.

We are always interested and open to receiving your comments, suggestions or feedback, whether positive or negative as there is always something to be learned. If you have any questions, please provide your comments by emailing We do encourage you to use it… We do plan to share the questions and responses to the emails received.

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On behalf of myself, Councillors and Staff, I’d like to wish the residents of the Municipality of Temagami a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year.

Dan O’Mara, Mayor
Municipality of Temagami

P.S. There is a group established that are planning on building the “Largest Canoe in the World”. We have provided our full support for this project and are finalizing the location where this will be displayed.