Some highlights from Norfolk County budget deliberations

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer


Highlights from this week’s 2018 Norfolk County operating budget deliberations include:

• Norfolk public works and county farmers are experimenting this winter with the idea of using corn as an alternative to snow fencing. Participating farmers have left several rows of corn standing in strategic locations where snowfencing would normally be installed. Robinson told council the corn is working well. Farmers taking part have been compensated for the value of their corn.

• All vehicles in Norfolk’s fleet will be fitted with global positioning devices (GPS) by the end of the year. Robinson said the devices helped Norfolk fend off potential litigation on four occasions last year by contradicting allegations that a Norfolk vehicle was involved in a mishap. The company monitoring Norfolk’s GPS data provided independent, third-party evidence that no county vehicles were in the vicinity of the mishaps in question.

• Norfolk will spend $60,000 in 2018 planting new trees in parks and other urban areas that have lost ash trees. Norfolk has removed 1,065 ash trees in the urban zone since 2013. The trees were killed by the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect from Asia. The $60,000 will replace about 400 trees. Norfolk community services plans a second replacement project in 2020.

• Norfolk council cut a $95,000 proposal for the rationalization of traffic flows in downtown Port Dover and the search for additional parking in the core. The county will instead ask the Port Dover Board of Trade to identify potential locations for new parking and report them to the county for further action.

• The Norfolk County Public Library Board will hire a tech-savvy professional this year to deliver seminars and one-on-one instruction to those who want to get the most from their digital devices and the world-wide web. The budget for the position is $80,500. Heather King, CEO of the Norfolk library network, said hiring a tech-resource person to liaise with the public is a trend across Ontario. The mandate of the individual hired is to bridge the “digital divide” between rapidly-advancing technology and vulnerable populations such as seniors that are in danger of being left behind.