This week’s council meeting went on until about 9:20, with the debate mostly surrounding the Downtown Business Association (DBA) area realignment. In a series of 4 to 3 votes the realignment was approved with a little unhappiness on both sides of the matter.
The only item to come out of the closed session of council was the apparent approval of an employment agreement with a new town planner. No name or start date were offered. There was no update provided regarding the status of the discussions between the Town and Lakeland Holding Ltd. regarding Parry Sound Hydro Corporation.
Councillors and Mayor Reports, Questions of Staff
The councillors had little to report of note concerning their activities. That is not to suggest that they have not been busy.
There were questions of the EMS Director regarding the Town’s preparedness for an accident, not necessarily on the scale of Lac-Mégantic. There was quite a bit of discussion and assurances that the Town was prepared and that our plan was coordinated with the neighbouring municipalities. There was mention of using social media. Whoopee! This is no criticism of the new EMS Director, he is new in the position, and we received the same type of ‘fluff’ from Staff prior to his arrival. (We refers to the Rail Safety Committee.) We are told what we are not allowed to know what the plan is (shhh – it’s a secret). Well I want to know how, at 3:00 in morning, or 3:00 in afternoon, I will be alerted to an emergency, and what I need to do. Living some twenty miles from a nuclear plant in Pennsylvania we were provided with instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. There were also a series of alarm sirens that were tested every month to provide an early warning to residents. And there were written directions on what to do in case of an emergency. They learned a few lessons after the Six Mile Island disaster. But here we are told ‘don’t worry, be happy, we have a plan and we test it annually’. So what’s the plan? Does it involve having the Island Queen blast their air horn? Or does that just mean they are heading out on their morning or afternoon cruise?
How about a plan that tells us as townspeople, what and what not to do in an emergency? How about telling us how we will know there is an emergency. Or do we just wait until people start screaming and heading out of town (the latter could be confusing on the Monday of a long weekend).
We perhaps don’t need to know what the plan is, we just need to know what we are expected to do in an emergency. When you get on an airplane they remind you of where the safety exits are.
No, I don’t feel comforted by spoken assurances of preparedness in the absence of tangible information. Enough said!
Correspondence and Deputation
4.1 – a letter from Stewardship Ontario regarding funding for the Town’s Blue Box Recycling Program passed on to Staff.
4.2 – a letter from Seguin Valley Golf Club offering a golfing discount for community First Responders was passed on to Staff.
4.3 – letters from Joel Kennedy on behalf of their clients and a town resident regarding the proposed boundary changes to the Downtown Business Improvement area were noted.
4.4 – a request that Council consider adding multi-unit dwellings to the municipal by-law that currently prohibits smoking in work and leisure areas was forward to Staff.
4.5 – a rebuttal by the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association regarding the request to remove Market Square Park from the proposed downtown boundary amendment was noted.
5.1 – I presented a deputation that included a suggestion the Town consider the formation of a Parks Committee to provide community input into the roles and uses of the many recreational areas in the Town to assist in the review and planning of new initiatives for these areas. See 9.1.4 for more discussion.
8.1 – Council approved a resolution asking federal and provincial governments take a proactive role in managing and preventing outbreaks of imported forestry related diseases.
8.2 – a resolution asking the Province of Ontario to amend the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to make it clear that municipalities and other public employers are not construction employers was carried.
Resolutions and Directions to Staff
9.1.1 – Council approved the purchase order for a 7-Ton Truck at a cost of about $187,000 plus HST.
9.1.2 – Council also approved the Pubic Work’s request for a Stand-by Generator and the application of additional budgeted and unspent funds on replacing and upgrading electrical connections at various sewage pumping stations.
9.1.3 – the Town will be getting a couple new trucks with Council’s approval of Public Work’s request for one ¾-ton and one 1/2-ton truck. These trucks were purchased for much less than the budgeted amounts.
9.1.4 – a request to approve a Commemorative Dedication Policy and Application was postponed pending the formation of a Parks Committee and presumably their preparation of an overall parks plan. Staff was directed to return to Council with a proposal for the formation of a Parks Committee and the appropriate Terms of Reference. I think it will be valuable for the Town to understand how residents and volunteers feel the recreation areas should evolve. It probably doesn’t make sense to cut down all the trees in Yvonne Williams Park to create a soccer field, nor does it make sense to take out the gardens on Tower Hill and put in swings and monkey bars. These examples are presented tongue in cheek to make the point that each area should have a defined role and use that will help guide future development.
9.2.1 – the EMS group received approval for the purchase of a new 2013 4×4 Crew Cab pickup after a little bit of debate on the merits of spending a little more for a 2014 model.
9.2.2 – Council also approved technology upgrades for the 16 or so EMS vehicles.
9.3.1 – Council agreed to support the application for funding to the TD Friends of the Environment to in support of Mission Park.
9.4.1 – the direction to prepare an amendment to the water billing by-law was approved.
9.5.1 – a change of a residential street address was carried.
9.6.1 – a request from Councillor Borneman that the town make a donation to Lac-Mégantic, Quebec was approved in the amount of $1,000. There was also considerable discussion regarding the disaster and the agreement to draft and send a letter to the federal government with appropriate copies to the railways, expressing a desire to have greater accountability and transparency with regards to the transporting of hazardous materials by rail.
10.1.1 – Council approved a by-law to permit the Ministry of Transportation to repair drainage issues affecting the Highway 400/Mill Lake Pedestrian Underpass. This project might be completed as soon as mid-September.
10.3.1 – the Downtown Business Association received approval for the revised and updated Downtown Improvement Area. The discussion was spirited with a few twists and turns that made it interesting to follow. In the end a couple of amendments were defeated in 4 to 3 votes, and the final by-law approved by a similar 4 to 3 vote. Thank goodness we are done with that issue, for good or for ill (although I’ll place a bet of good).
10.3.2 – the Deputy clerk was appointed as Head under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
10.4.1 – Council approved an extension of the agreement with NCO Financial Services Inc.
10.5.1 – College Drive has been assumed by the Town of Parry Sound.
10.5.2 – Council agreed to put up for sale a small parcel of property behind a lot on Parry Sound Road.
These notes review only those portions of the council meeting that I see as having greater importance or general community interest. Please see my earlier Council Agenda Preview post for more discussion and details concerning the various agenda items.
The official minutes from council meetings are available at the Town of Parry Sound website, no later than the Friday following the meeting. The full council proceeding are available on video through Cogeco. Schedule details are available from the town office (705-746-2101).
Parry Sound in Black and White (June 2013)