Last night was a remarkably short meeting of Parry Sound Town Council. There were relatively few agenda items, and consensus on those items that were on the agenda. The key points that arose during the meetings are summarized below (TOPS refers to Town of Parry Sound).

1. The handrail on Cascade Street has been installed and is scheduled to be painted later this week.

2. The Forest Street crossing arms have been installed.

3. According to Councillor Paul Borneman, Parry Sound Power Corporation is covering expenses and is slightly profitable. The sister corporation of Parry Sound Power, Parry Sound PowerGen Corporation however is not doing as well. Power generation revenues, despite power generation “24/7” and with ‘Heritage’ pricing for the power generated, are not sufficient to cover future investments. Apparently the future of Parry Sound’s power initiative, which is majority owned by TOPS, is questionable without an infusion of capital.

This is one of the bigger financial and strategic issues facing the town. Here’s hoping that there will be openness and transparency regarding the process of reviewing and ranking the options.

4. Council has requested information from the Near North District School Board concerning the status of the proposed new elementary school for TOPS. The final decision about location of the school will have a profound implication on the town’s budget for fiscal 2012. The decision process for selection of a school site has been ongoing for far too long it seems.

Here’s hoping that the location selected for the new elementary school takes into account the negative impact of transportation noise on the ability of children to learn. As I noted in a recent letter to the North Star, the lower than average test scores of Parry Sound elementary school children may very well be a function of their proximity to the CN rail line. There is good evidence that excessive transportation noise can negatively impact reading and learning development that shows up in poor test scores.

5. Council approved their share of costs for the installation of automatic gates at the Cascade Street Crossing. Peter Brown, Director of Public Works is hopeful that installation can be scheduled for a year from now, but this will depend on the agreement and funding support of the Federal Government. TOPS is responsible for 12.5% of the cost of the installation, or about $42,000. While this is a relatively small cost for an asset that will last for decades and potentially save more than one life, the overall expense of the project seems excessive. I’ll have more on this later after a little more research into the project cost estimate provided by CN.

6. The construction of the dog pound was formally approved. Construction will start later this month and is scheduled for completion in April 2012.

7. There is a special meeting of Council on November 8th, to review the various Town department business plans. The public portion of the meeting starts at 7:00 PM at the Parry Sound Town Hall, access from Gibson Street. I expect it will be a listen only meeting, with the possibility that deputations may be permitted at the beginning of the session.

I’ll provide a link to the final Council meeting minutes and the Special Council meeting agenda once they are posted in a day or so.