The big issue on the agenda this week, as far as I am concerned, is my request for media privileges. This really won’t change things much but does allow me to attend meetings that are closed to the public, and open to the media. I’ve attached the Council Report and Recommendation that was provided to me last Friday. Staff has recommended that I not be granted these privileges, partly on the basis that Toronto does not grant similar privileges and because they feel that our council and staff processes are transparent. I hope that they are prepared to be held to the same standards of communication as the City of Toronto staff and council. We’ll see what transpires, I’ll be there to watch. On a positive note, I’m pleased to see that town staff has separated the list of upcoming events on the town’s website to make it easier to see what Council and Committee meetings are scheduled.

The closed portion of Tuesday’s council meeting includes an organizational chart revision. In a previous closed session responsibility for the planning function was moved to the Director of Development & Leisure Services, Lynn Middaugh, previously Director of Economic Development and Leisure Services. (Here’s a link to the recent chart on the town’s website.) This organization chart lists the previous Director of Community Development, Iain Laing, as “Planner”. I have no idea what additional organizational changes are being made, but I hope there are ongoing announcements of changes at the director level. I only found out about this change from a blog reader who noticed the change in titles in the last council meeting agenda. Note: As a bit of a non sequitur, Mr. Laing is listed as Director of Community Development in the February 5th council meeting agenda.

Agenda Highlights:

Correspondence and Deputations:

Three letters were received. One, concerning an animal shelter, was put on the meeting agenda as item 9.1.1.

There are two deputations scheduled, both seem to be council information updates. They are from: Georgian Bay Country Tourism, and the West Parry Sound Health Centre and Lakeland Long Term Care.

9.1.1 – is a resolution to advise the community that Parry Sound cannot support an animal shelter. This type of service would be additional to the existing animal impound centre. There is also a recommendation that the town budgets $3,5000 for the spaying and neutering of feral cats. I wonder if this should be reconsidered in light of the recent reports that domesticated cats kill tens of billions of birds, reptiles and small mammals in the USA. Translating these figures to Canada suggests our cats are killing hundreds of millions for Canada. And feral cats that don’t get fed regularly presumably hunt for food and sport.

9.1.2, 9.1.3 – are resolutions related to fines and new parking meters.

9.2.1 – is the 2012 Annual Report of the Integrity Commissioner. This is worth a read. I’ll get a copy and provide a summary.

9.2.2 – is a direction to deny my request for media privileges. There is also a resolution to extend media privileges solely to established media outlets.

9.2.3 – is a direction to advise the public of amendments to the Fees and Services By-laws. Most notably, it will now cost $140 for a marriage license, a 23% increase. Cheaper to ‘live in sin’?

9.2.4 – is a resolution to approve the 2013 Key Performance Objectives Departmental Summary. I’ll try to get to the library tomorrow and read it in more detail with notes posted as appropriate.

9.4.1 – is a resolution to accept two offers for property that were recently put up for tender. Both of the offers recommended for acceptance are higher than the appraised value for the properties.

9.4.2 – is a direction to offer an additional two lots for sales by tender. These lots are situated on MacFarlane Street.

9.6.1 – is a resolution for council to endorse pre-budget approval of $5,000 to sponsor the Festival of the Sound’s opening weekend this summer.

10.4.2 – is a by-law to update the by-laws regulating the fees and service charges for planning services. This follows up council discussions over the past few meetings.

There’s more, but these are the key topics as far as I can tell. See you Tuesday night. If you want to know what went down last year at council I have compiled all of the council minutes into a single PDF document that can be easily searched.

There is a meeting on the 6th between Parry Sound, the Archipelago and some other municipalities to discuss the low water levels. You are not invited; this is an ‘only by invitation’ affair. But ‘traditional press’ may of course attend. If you have a Cogeco cable television subscription it should be broadcast at some point in the future. If you don’t, you are out of luck. I have asked town staff about what arrangements they are making for people like me who don’t have Cogeco television service. Making this meeting accessible to all residents would be consistent with their declared policy of fostering transparency.

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