Dorset bridge work begins
By Sue Tiffin
Published April 20, 2017
The following are brief reports of items discussed during an April 12 Haliburton County council meeting.
Rehabilitation work on Dorset’s Main Street bridge began April 3. The bridge is fully closed to traffic during construction.
Dorset sits partly in Algonquin Highlands and partly in Lake of Bays, and so the project is a joint initiative between the county and the District of Muskoka, with design consultation and contract administration managed by Muskoka.
The work is not expected to disrupt water traffic in the area. It’s expected to be finished in June in time for the peak summer season. Previous rehabilitation work was done on the bridge in 2003.
Project updates are available at muskoka.on.ca.
Stanhope playground to be inclusive
Members of the Barrier Aware team, an initiative of the joint advisory committee, will help consult on accessibility at Stanhope Park on April 28 at 2 p.m. Accessible pathways, parking, garbage cans, picnic tables and bathrooms have been initiated at the park, said Chris Card, manager of the parks, recreation and trails department for Algonquin Highlands.
“It’s now the playground that’s presenting some opportunity for enhancement,” he said.
County Warden Brent Devolin said the Lochlin playground is accessible, and Card noted the Bracebridge Sports Complex as a good example, as it is fully accessible, including surfacing that enables children with sensory needs or in walkers and wheelchairs to play.
County culinary exchange results now online
A report about Haliburton County’s offerings, knowledge, marketing and attitudes to local food presented last month at county council is available online.
The report details the experiences of representatives from Prince Edward County, who visited the county last fall.
“We can take the pieces we think we can move forward with as opportunities,” said Amanda Virtanen, county tourism director.
Sharing the report online fosters conversations outside of committees, said Carol Moffatt, chair of the county tourism committee.
The report is the result of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ First Impression Community Exchange Program. It’s available in the March 2017 tourism department report at haliburton.civicweb.net.
County survey shows year-round visitors
More than 300 people completed an online survey sharing their tourism experiences in Haliburton County between Jan. 1 and March 31.
“There is nothing that is shocking in any of these numbers,” said Virtanen. “It’s still all good news.”
Most survey responders had heard about the area through family and friends, and almost 38 per cent said they came to experience the outdoors. More than half of responders arrived to the area via Hwy. 35 and stayed at a cottage they owned. Forty-five per cent of the visitors said they spent less than $500 while here. More than 70 per cent of respondents said they visited the Highlands in the summer as well as the winter.
“People are visiting all year,” said Virtanen. “Our visitors are coming and expecting something to be happening every season when they come.”
“We’re so entrenched in that seasonality, but it’s changing whether we’re ready for it or not,” said Moffatt. “We’re in a transition period. Haliburton County is on the cusp of this brilliance. Taking all the information we have and capturing the opportunity – that really is what it all comes down to.”
Ninety-seven per cent of respondents said they would recommend friends and family visit the area.
“The amount of people that will recommend the Haliburton Highlands is huge too, because it pushes away that mindset – that we’re not ready for this or that. We are ready. People are recommending us,” said Virtanen.
The survey is available online via myhaliburtonhighlands.com.
County Road 3
County Road 3 will undergo work to fix road base issues caused by a bad winter of freeze-thaw cycles.
Extreme heaving has affected the road surface, resulting in letters, emails and phone calls from drivers, according to a report by Craig Douglas, director of public works.
The road was already prioritized to be hot mix paved, but trouble spots will be rebuilt, first.
“If we can fix some of those really bad areas, and correct those spots and see how they perform after a year or so, it puts us in a much better spot when we do the whole repaving,” said Mike Rutter, chief administrative officer for the county.
The budget includes $50,000 for the project. Additional funding might be reallocated from a hot mix tender that came in under budget. A repair plan will be finalized once the frost disappears.
The county has developed a post-tramuatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevention plan and anti-stigma policy statement to help first-responders access quicker benefits and treatments for illness. The information will be submitted to the Ministry of Labour to comply with new legislation that presumes PTSD is work-related for first responders.
“There isn’t a need to point to a specific incident that has caused the PTSD,” said Rutter. “It’s been proven it can be cumulative.” All staff will be trained on the plan in the late spring.
Accessibility Committee Members
A vacancy for interested residents to join the joint advisory committee as public appointees remains despite advertising the available spot.
“We have been looking for members for at least a couple years,” said Rutter. “We are one member short.”
Interested applicants can contact Michele Moore at 705-286-1333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The meetings are held quarterly at county council chambers in Minden. The next meeting will be held on July 12.