Fire bans and waste sites are hot topics at KHR Council

KILLALOE – The Corporation of the Township of Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards met for their regularly scheduled council meeting on August 28. Many issues were addressed, such as the topics of fire bans and parking.

Leslie Levair, owner of Levair’s Campground, has been responding to recent concerns about fire bans on his property and how it has affected his business this past summer.
Fire Chief Bob Gareau let Levair know that as a campground owner, he could set certain parameters to controlled burning.
“Campgrounds can run their fire pits. You can make what conditions you want with it,” Gareau said.
Levair insisted that he has had a good fire safety record, after dealing with fires for over 50 year.
“I already set rules and I’ve been setting them for years. If I see a fire I don’t like, I put it out. I’m losing $200 a day in July because of the fire band. I’ve never had a fire truck come to my campground in 50 years,” Levair noted.
Councillor Debbie Peplinskie, who also chaired the meeting in Mayor Janice Visneskie’s absence, told Levair that KHR, and the whole county, has had to adhere with the policy of the fire ban.
“We’ve had other complaints, Leslie, but it wasn’t just here in KHR, it was everywhere across the county,” Peplinskie noted.
Levair added to his argument.
“Because I’ve had complaints about people just wanting to have a small fire to cook marshmallows and hot dogs and they can’t even do that. People call from as far away as London but when they learn they can’t have a fire, they say ‘Oh, we’re not coming, then’ and they hang up” Levair noted.
Local resident Barry Keetch was on hand to discuss the council’s approval of a tender for concrete slabs to be placed at the new waste sites.
Keetch took exception to the fact that his bid, or tender, for the project was not accepted.
Peplinskie had his application and documents on hand but Keetch claimed that the process of accepting the bid is unfair.
“My numbers are all there but somehow they didn’t come in right. You add up all the numbers and they are right but somehow, they got changed in the process,” Keetch said.
Peplinskie referred to the process of hiring a consultant to look over the tenders to make sure that everything is sound, from an environmental perspective.
“We had our consultant review it and he gave us his recommendation,” Peplinskie noted.
Dismayed by the tight timeline of the approval, Keetch objected.
“This was presented to council on August 7 so the consultant had it for a few weeks. First of all, I didn’t get this from him until August 24. I got an email from him on Thursday the 26th. I had questions for him, which I phoned in and I got no answers for,” Keetch added.
Adding to the confusion of the process, Keetch claimed that his figures where changed to cubic metres, but that he always deal in square metres.
“My figures are on there. That’s a legal document signed by me. What’s he doing changing my numbers?” Keetch asked.
Councillor Peplinskie responded to Keetch’s inquiry.
“I have an email from our consultant and he’s given you the information. You were previously contacted by phone. The RFQ was sent with all of the attachments and they sent a delivery receipt,” Peplinskie said.
Noting that Keetch’s unit cost of concrete slab installations were very high in comparison with the other quotes, Peplinskie went over the consultant’s information.
“I thought he made a mistake and I was trying to find out and I couldn’t get a hold of him. It’s hard enough to get work without having to do this,” Keetch said.
Peplinskie responded with the final answer of the council.
“I’m sorry Barry but the council has made their decision” she noted.
Wanting his voice to be heard and asking for more information, Keetch responded in frustration.
“I think council is misinformed on the decision they did make. Who decided who got the tender? Who made that decision? Who actually received those documents? I know who got them but who made that decision because I’m not the only one that’s unhappy with this. You spend $100,000 worth of money, here, and where has it gone?There’s not a nickel left, here. What is going on? Who’s making these decisions?” Keetch added.

“Council makes the decisions,” Councillor Ernie Cybulski answered.
“Did council make the decisions or did the engineer decide for you? What’s going on? I’m a taxpayer. What’s going on here? Isn’t that your jobs – to take care of our money? I can take a beating but I don’t have to take this,” Keetch added.
Keetch continued to voice his discontent with the situation.
“This is ridiculous. Well as a taxpayer, that’s another issue. This is so overbuilt and I’ve been at this a long time. Everything is way over budget. I don’t know what you paid this environmental engineer but this is crazy,” Keetch noted.
“That’s what the ministry wants so that’s we have to comply with,” Peplinskie answered.
“Come on people,” Keetch blurted.
Keetch threw his hands up in frustration and left the township office.

Story continues in the September 5, 2012 issur of The Valley Gazette.