This post summarizes the discussion and decisions arising from the January 17th Regular Council Meeting. As usual there were only a handful of people in attendance, mostly those who had items of personal or business interest on the evening’s agenda.

For those of you who did not attend the regular meeting of council on the 17th there was no chance to catch it the next day on cable. Cogeco wasn’t there, nor was the North Star, perhaps because of the weather. The Moose-FM was the only media present and at one point the Mayor looked to James King of the Moose for help in getting out the message regarding council’s change in the viewing options for the BOCC when he realized there was no other way for town residents to be so informed. So the question is: if Council makes a decision and it isn’t picked up by the local media does anyone know about it? This reinforces how important it is for more Parry Sound residents to attend the meetings and see what is happening, as it happens.

There really needs to be some attention paid to recording the proceedings of council and retaining them for public review. Cogeco may be ‘free’ but it is not dependable, and there does not appear to be any attempt by the Town to archive these video recordings. Ask to review the proceedings of a meeting last year, or read a transcript, and you will be told it’s not available. The decisions made by council can be significant and the meeting minutes capture little of the discussion and the subtleties of the decisions.

Get involved and understand the issues. We have a mayor, councilors and town staff that are smart and concerned, but they can benefit from our informed input. Get to know the issues and provide your thoughts with a call, a letter, an email or a deputation. There are more important issues than potholes that council deals with on a weekly basis. Get to know what they are.

Interesting and Notable Agenda Items

Item 9.3.1 requesting budget approval for EMS was approved. The total is $7.8 million for 2012. The EMS Advisory Committee recommended a 9.9% increase in the EMS levy for the year. Parry Sound covers only a small amount of this district wide expense.

Item 9.5.1 requesting an extension of the free dumping of charitable waste for the Salvation army was approved. This is a very reasonable accommodation for an organization that contributes much to the community. Their problem seems less an issue of an inability to manage their operation to reduce ‘garbage’ than it is the actions of in-town and out-of-town individuals using the Salvation Army store as a dumping ground for their garbage. I suspect that some of the garbage, furniture and similar items unsuitable for resale or refurbishing, is coming from communities that do not have transfer station facilities. For those in town, it costs only a few dollars to use the Parry Sound transfer facility, and if you wait for free dump day it costs nothing. There may be some merit in the town considering curbside pick up of large items for free disposal once or twice a year. Yes it would cost the town a little but it would make things easier for the Salvation Army and tidy up our community. Not everyone has the resources to bring items to the transfer station on free dump day. This really is a town and regional problem more than a Salvation Army problem. The extension is a bandage, let’s see how council proposes to help in the longer term.

Items 10.4.1, 10.4.2 and 10.4.3 relating to rezoning applications that were the subject of open meetings in December were approved. No surprises here, and from my point of view the decisions seem reasonable in the context of the requests and the town’s strategic plan.

Here’s a link to the official minutes of the council meeting. There was more agreed at the meeting than I have covered that’s worth taking a look at. I’ll start compiling the minutes as we get through a couple more meetings.

One non-agenda item as noted earlier was the agreement of council to allow people attending the BOCC to view games from the rooms above the rink whenever the rooms were not being rented out. This is a simple way to provide more comfort for spectators until the heating issue in the arena area is sorted out.