Well I missed the meeting on the 19th and these notes are based on the council meeting minutes prepared by Parry Sound staff, as well as the North Star’s news coverage. I had intended to attend but needed to catch a flight the next day and decided to leave Tuesday evening rather than chance the heavy snow promised for the next day. And as I have discovered council and staff don’t give you any special privileges for perfect attendance.

Not attending the council meeting reminds me of how much you miss by not attending the meeting or having access to the Cogeco broadcast. While the basic decisions are summarized in the minutes there is no summary of the councillors reports and only a brief summary of the the questions asked of staff. From reading the North Star, it appears that one councillor took the Public works department to task with regards to snow removal. My comment to the councillor and the public on this issue is, get used to it. It’s one of the tradeoffs of keeping taxes low. Remember the saying: “You can have any two of – service quality, service cost and service timeliness, but not all three.”? In this case cost is lowered by having reduced staff and equipment, and the quality is actually quite good. It’s the timeliness that is left to suffer. Since quality is not negotiable, it’s a safety issue, it means that we will need to pay more if we want faster service. So we just need to wait a little longer to go for that cup of coffee at Tim’s, or we’ll need to pay more. I can wait. There were also questions to staff related to credit cards and Family Day events.

Correspondence and Deputations:

4.1 – the letter from the Ontario Ministry of Education in response to council’s letter asking for provincial involvement in the Near North School Board decision to move the Grade 7 and 8 students was read and filed. It reminded the town this is a local rather than provincial issue and that everybody needs to pay attention to good communication regarding decisions. I can agree with that.

5.1, 5.2 – two deputations were made related to engineering projects and water meters. I would urge the town be cautious about installing water meters at all customer locations, I suspect it will open a can of worm with respect to usage and the corresponding charges. But this seemed to be related to replacing the existing meters with units that can be read remotely.

Agenda Highlights:

2.1.1 – a public meeting to review the proposed rezoning for the ‘Age in Place’ facility was held with no objections recorded. It will be approved sooner rather than later.

7.1 – another individual was added to the Citizen’s Finance Committee. Let’s see if we get better attendance from the committee at the open meetings of council related to budget. For that matter it would be good for the committee members to attend all meetings of council to understand the issues that council and staff have to wrestle with as they review budgets.

9.2.1 – council approved a direction to provide public notice of higher fees (10%) for cemetery services.

9.4.1 – the town’s official plan will be on the agenda for the March 19th meeting.

9.6.1 – a resolution arising from the Mayors-Chiefs-Reeves meeting held on February 6th regarding the low water levels in the Great Lakes was carried. It basically requests action be taken to study and address the problem. It’s a start. The council package contains a report of the actual meeting that is worth reviewing. I have separately posted copies of the meeting documents at the website of the Parry sound Power and sail Squadron.

9.6.2 – a resolution was passed requesting Canada Post continue the sorting of mail in Parry Sound to minimize delays in local mail delivery.

9.6.3 – a direction was carried requesting staff to investigate opportunities for greater use of the Bobby Orr Community Centre.

9.6.4 – council approved the direction that a letter be drafted to the Near North School Board with regards to the academic issues being experienced by the local elementary schools. This is a big issue in my opinion. The quality of schools is one of the first considerations for businesses and families as they consider locating to a new area. It’s not an issue of course if we are happy to have the town grow old and be serviced by the surrounding communities. This is one of the issues the town needs to consider as it increasingly positions itself as a ‘retirement’ community.

10.2.1 – a by-law to enter into an agreement with a provider to supply family assistance services for town employees was carried.

10.2.2 – another by-law, this one to increase fees for certain services provided by the town was carried. This will help close the budget gap a teeny tiny bit.

I’m sorry that I missed the meeting but it’s not clear I missed all that much. I urge town residents to attend the upcoming budget meeting this Wednesday, starting at 6:00. It’d open to the public. It’s a chance to see how ‘budget sausage’ is made.

Here’s an image I took over the Family Day weekend on the Rose Point Trail. Our local trails are a real benefit for the community. I hope council can approve the 2013 budget item that supports connecting the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail with the Rose Point Trail in Seguin. (Despite the heavy snow machine traffic on the trail there was no problem walking along it, the operators of the machines were cautious and considerate.)