Minto and Wellington North make plans to share drainage superintendent post

MINTO – The Town of Minto has agreed to work with Wellington North on a plan to share a full-time municipal drainage superintendent.

Minto council authorized staff to pursue an agreement for the position at its June 16 meeting.

Staff from the two municipalities, as well as the Township of Mapleton, met in February to discuss future plans for the provision of drainage superintendent services for each municipality, explained a report from Minto roads and drainage manager Mike McIsaac.

Wellington North was interested in pursuing a different service provision for local drainage superintendent services, which are currently provided through contracted engineering firms in both municipalities, the report notes.

“Mapleton advised they do not have a need or want to participate in a shared services arrangement for drainage superintendent services at this time,” McIsaac explained.

“A shared municipal resource, dedicated to local municipal drains, can provide a more proactive approach to drain maintenance, whereas our existing service level is complaint based.”

The report notes, “This concept has worked with North Perth and Perth East,” which have shared a drainage superintendent for the past five years.

A shared service partnership with a neighbouring municipality is consistent with a 2019 KPMG report on municipal efficiencies commissioned by Wellington County and its seven member municipalities, the report notes.

It is “another way to look for efficiencies with great potential for cost savings while producing a high level of service to the community,” McIsaac stated.

Wellington North and Minto recently agreed to share a fire department management team led by a new Director of Fire Services.

Chris Harrow, Minto’s fire chief, was appointed to the position by both municipalities on May 19.

McIsaac told council having an employee dedicated two or three days a week to completing drainage inspections and communicating with citizens would enhance service levels.

“There would always be a need for consultants,” he said, pointing out new drain petitions and upgrades to current systems would still require engineering reports.

“Was there ever a thought to having a staff member getting the OMAFRA qualifications to do our own maintenance without amalgamating?” asked councillor Mark MacKenzie.

“Currently I have those qualifications as well as one other staff member,” said McIsaac.

However, he noted, “the issue is to have the time to be able to provide that service to the community in that specific time window.”

McIsac told council that drainage superintendent services are eligible for a 50 per cent grant from the province for proactive work such as inspections and walking drains, things the town is “lacking the resources to be able to do.”

“By creating an amalgamation of this service is it going to increase staff?” MacKenzie wanted to know.

“We’re already currently paying for those resources. It will be cheaper going this route,” said McIsaac.

“In 2020 we’ve allocated $100,000 toward drainage superintendents, 50 per cent grantable,” he explained.

“I would think realistically we will probably be able to drop that in half and be able to provide just as much or more service, again more presence available out in the community.”

Deputy mayor Dave Turton said, “I think it’s a great idea you have my endorsement.”

Mayor George Bridge said, “If you look at the map – and all of us look at it when we do our flood planning – us and Wellington North, they send half their water to us anyway, so you might as well have the drainage systems working the same way.

“It’s just one of those things that, again, it goes back to trying to do some integrated services that make sense.”

A resolution directing staff to continue working with Wellington North to develop an agreement passed unopposed.