Letters to the editor, May 10, 2013

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Community spirit displayed at clean-up

To the editor:

On April 27th, many Brockville residents participated as volunteers in a spring clean-up of sites to help rid green space of litter.

When I saw notice of this initiative, I approached neighbours on Brookview Crescent who reside near a park and Buell’s Creek. Without hesitation, even a feeling that they were glad to be asked, they made their appearance on Saturday morning. Families, individuals and couples were represented and wholeheartedly approached the task at hand. The community spirit was wonderful and our mission was accomplished. This mingling of our neighbours has us now thinking of planning a neighbourhood yard sale - another example of community spirit.

Many thanks to the City of Brockville for co-ordinating this event. The tireless work of volunteers was greatly appreciated. Cameron Wales, a student, did a fabulous job. Not to be forgotten were the many sponsors who provided tools, gloves, t-shirts, bags and refreshments.

I would strongly encourage that this annual event be marked on next year’s calendar for all residents to consider, for the rewards are great. The outcome of a clean, safe environment is a picture worth a thousand words.

Thank you Brookview Crescent residents! I am so proud of you all!

Elisabeth Dyckow, Brockville


Time for Athens to do its own inspections

To the editor:

Re: ‘Steep fees to rebuild’, Recorder and Times

To the issue with the fees required by the Verburg family to rebuild in Athens Township, this is yet another example of why we need our own building department with local staff.

To calculate a permit fee of even $12,000 is exorbitant and unjustified. These fees are designed to neither generate revenue nor create expense to the township. It is simply to pay for the time of the building department staff to process an application and inspect the development as it progresses.

Since these fees become public funds, the onus is on the township, and thus the building department, to justify these fees. I am almost certain that there will be no more than eight site visits concerning this project from start to finish. At three hours per visit, with two staff members, that is a total of 48 hours. If office staff took the same amount of time to process the permit, you are looking at 96 hours to complete this application.

I would assume that if the highest-paid employee at Rideau Lakes was paid $100,000 per year, this would work out to approximately $50 per hour. Add this all up and you are stretching it to justify $4,800 in costs to recover. Where is the justification for $12,000, let alone $20,000? Absurd!

Why is council not asking these questions on behalf of the residents of Athens?

Contracting out to Rideau Lakes has been a headache for residents and the construction companies who have had the pleasure of dealing with the Rideau Lakes crew since Athens started contracting their services. Over three to four years, Athens’ taxpayers have paid approximately $15,000 to $30,000 per year to use their services. Now in one fell swoop, Rideau Lakes wants almost a year’s intake on one file? Be real!

Any project of this magnitude will require complete engineers’ drawings and approvals, so there is little interpretation or abnormal time required by building officials to review, etc. Communications will mostly fall between engineers and the builders, not the building department, so why the ridiculous fee? With any professional that bills for time, there is a ledger required that details time spent and expenses incurred: Why is this not part of the process in Athens? The status quo is to just accept what another township dictates what Athens’ taxpayers must pay.

It is time to hire a local part-time building inspector that cares about our residents and not about supporting a bureaucracy. As our mayor, it is unfortunate for Herb Scott to say that there is no sense asking for a reduced permit, because it won’t make a difference.  I would suggest a different approach: Cancel the contract and hire someone who will work for our residents. Public servants are in place to serve us, not the other way around. If they no longer serve our needs, get rid of them.

There is a simple solution, and that is reduced permit fees, from a reduced overhead and building department, which can only be done in-house and in Athens. Why is it so difficult to go to bat for a resident in this situation and inquire what the possibilities are, or to question such unjustifiable fees? Making an exception for someone who has just suffered such a loss is what small communities are about.

How disappointing that an entire community has rallied behind these three hard-working families since their loss, and then seeing our own mayor who doesn’t think we can do anything for them because it isn’t convenient to rock the boat and expect accountability from a local bureaucracy.

Yuergen Beck, Athens



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