2017 Accomplishments

Posted: January 8, 2018

Dear residents,

As 2017 comes to a close, it seems that now is an appropriate time to make note of some of the exceptional accomplishments that have taken place this year.  Our Town of Petrolia team of staff and Council, has spent countless hours working to better our community in many ways. 

In no particular order, please see the following list of both accomplishments, and innovations that Petrolia should be proud of:

  • Submitted a request for the Ontario Community Investment Fund – 4th Intake for $7M grant to replace our Clearwell and pumps at our Water Treatment Plant.  This is the first time the province has had 4 municipalities pool their grant application authority together for a joint critical infrastructure project.  We should know by January 2018 if our application was approved. 
  • Implemented new In-house payroll system resulting in improved service, flexibility and annual savings of about $8k 
  • Petrolia was the 12th municipality to submit its 2016 Financial Information Return (FIR) out of 444.  Minister of Municipal Affairs sent Town letter recognizing this great accomplishment as Petrolia won an FIR Award.  Submission of timely, accurate FIR is a condition of applying for and receiving federal and provincial grants.  
  • Council Welsh presented Petrolia’s lessons learned on Asset Management at the annual Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM) in Calgary. 
  • Mayor McCharles to present Petrolia’s success and experience regarding Asset Management at the annual Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) Conference in Toronto on 1 December 2017. 
  • Introduced electronic tax billing to provide better service to residents and reduce costs.
  • Negotiated a rate stabilization clause for the Town’s insurance program generating savings of about $6,400 per year over the next three years.  
  • Updated the Town’s 10-year Asset Management Plans and Strategic Financial Plans.
  • Implemented a new management operating system for the Community Centre (Moved from CLASS to Theatre Manager, which is the same software we use for the VPP)   
  • Completed the many approved grant reports and documentation required by the Province and federal government to receive grant funding.
  • $628K Clean Water Wastewater Fund grant to help fund construction on Florence-Egan-Kerby
  • $274.5K Ontario 150 grant to help fund major arena renovations Arena
  • Received a letter of appreciation from MPAC for Petrolia’s active participation in MPAC’s working group on Service Level Agreements.  Petrolia was one of 20 municipalities including Toronto and Ottawa.  
  • Petrolia was key member of Municipal Finance Officers Association of Ontario’s (MFOA) initiative to update their landmark “Role of the Municipal CFO/Treasurer” reference document.  One of 5 municipalities out of 444.
  • Improved financial management framework and reporting for OHDCC.  
  • Received $520K capital contribution from Waste Management in accordance with our a private-public sector partnership agreement to process their leachate from their Petrolia landfill site. 
  • Received $250K Waste Management contribution to help fund our major Arena renovations estimated at $550K.
  • Ontario Community Investment Fund – Formula Based grant increased from $75K in 2016, $136K for 2017, $192K for 2018, and $291K for 2019.
  • Ontario 150 Community Capital Program for Arena capital grant approved for $274.5K. 
  • Seniors grant $8K to help fund Rec Room
  • Pizzafest – most successful to date
  • New event – Victorian Porches and Verandas luncheon
  • Expanded Canada Day for Canada150 to three days
  • Visitpetrolia.ca to launch January 2018
  • Town General Operating Budget has had a year-end surplus for past four years (2013 $90, 2014 $50K, 2015 $80K and 2016 $92K)
  • Council decided to use our $92K 2016 Town General Operating Budget surplus towards paying off our internal Streetlights LED project which will now be fully paid in 2018 vice 2019 removing some financial pressure off of 2019. 
  • Petrolia Line Reconstruction Project – $2M OCIF Grant.  Project completed.
  • Mandaumin Reservoir Replacement Project – $2M Grant.  Project completed.
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant Upgrade – $14.3M Grant.  Project is now over 90% complete.
  • Implemented a new computer – wireless notification/readiness system for the Fire Department and CERV members
  •  Developed a plan (required by the Ministry of Labour), protocols, and response capabilities to respond to Post Traumatic Stress
  • Increased firefighter health initiatives, and by partnering with the Family Health Team, introduced medical monitoring for firefighters
  • Developed a multi-year equipment replacement plan for all equipment over $5000
  • iCompass implementation for Agenda & Minutes management (accessibility & records retention)
  • Columbarium project at Cemetery (cremation section addition)
  • Englehart Mausoleum restoration
  • In year 5 of 5-year monument restoration program at Hillsdale
  • Successful tendering of Plow Truck (on budget)
  • Implementation of GovBid for surplus disposal
  • Water Treatment Plant intake upgrade with cribbing
  • Gables final phase – subdivision agreement
  • CountryView Estates – Englehart Drive extension subdivision agreement
  • Negotiation with coming business sectors – planning & development
  • 2017 property tax rate increase of 1%, composite rate stayed the same (increase of 0%)
  • 2017 Water rate increase 2%.
  • 2017 Sewer rate decrease of 5%.
  • VPP Received $127,000 2017 Celebrate Ontario Grant
  • VPP Received $50,000 2017 Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Grant
  • Victoria Hall theatre floors refinished, and new seating installed along with a relocation of the audio mixing console at no cost to the ratepayer. $88K project completely fundraised
  • OHDCC hosted the 2017 Oil Slick Mudrun with 78 participants and 30 youth participating in the Mini Mudrun
  • Rec Room Drop In Centre for seniors and youth opened in March 2017
  • Both Pools at the OHDCC were drained and the pools re-grouted in January of 2017
  • New event – Petrolia Day
  • New event – Farm to Table Harvestfest
  • Street banners and parking lot banners
  • New LED Christmas Lights
  • New Town entrance signs

While I have highlighted the many accomplishments achieved by our excellent staff working together with Council during 2017, we also experienced some challenges. One of those challenges involved a serious situation which arose as a result of the actions of our then CAO.  Council took prompt and determined action once it became aware of that matter, engaged an investigator to thoroughly review all aspects of the decisions of the then CAO, and ultimately accepted his resignation.

I am confident that the special investigation conducted independently by Mr. John Fleming, was thorough, complete and very carefully undertaken and documented. When Mr. Fleming’s work was complete, and his report finalized, he submitted that report to Council. Because the report addressed personal matters, it has not been, nor will it be, released to the public.

Mr. Fleming did indicate, however that he had no reason to believe that there were other problems within the administration of the Town. He did comment that he saw the need for the Town to review and tighten its Procurement By-law, especially the part pertaining to the buying, selling and leasing of real estate, and was assured to learn that staff had already been in the process of drafting such amendments.

Mr. Fleming said, “I was pleased to be able to assist the Town of Petrolia in conclusively addressing and resolving a difficult situation.

Despite the challenging situation, I have been impressed with the commitment and professionalism of Town senior administrative staff, and their focus on moving forward with the important work that lies ahead.

I’m very confident that the new Chief Administrative Officer, when she or he is on board, will find what I found: a hard-working group of professionals, up to the task of rebuilding the faith of the people of Petrolia in their local government.  I surely found no reason to doubt that in my work in Town Hall.”

I am confident that, as an experienced municipal executive and investigator, should Mr. Fleming have had any reason to believe that additional investigation was required into other areas, he would have recommended to Council that further investigation be undertaken.  I take comfort, as I believe my Council colleagues do, in knowing that the challenge we experienced was isolated to one person, that this problem has been resolved and that we have an excellent administration team that will continue to lead us towards greatness in 2018.

Finally, our search for a new Chief Administrative Officer is already underway.


John McCharles


Town of Petrolia