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The upcoming Council meeting on the 7th has more interesting topics than I originally thought when looking at the agenda on Friday. I apologize for the late posting but the council meeting package was not available at the Library when I dropped by after lunch on Saturday which forced me to take time off work to read it this afternoon. It really would be great if the council meeting packages were provided online, even if it only included the staff analysis and recommendation documents.

Interesting and Notable Agenda Items

Item 9.1.1 requests council to approve the drafting of an agreement/terms of reference for a youth drop-in centre. This drop-in centre is expected to cost $51,700 per year with an expectation that separate funding (Trillium and donations) would reduce the town’s portion of the expense to about $16,700 annually.

Item 9.1.2 requests council approval for a revised Municipal Assistance Program. This program is funded at the level of about $20,000 per year. The revised proposal includes a new class of agencies to be supported at no more than 10% of the total budget. This new class would cover charitable surplus material disposal. Interestingly enough this will probably not cover the Salvation Army’s needs, as the recommendation suggests this group not be considered eligible because they are not non-denominational. This seems a poor recommendation for an organization that provides much to our community. Would Mother Theresa not be afforded any support by council because she was Catholic and espoused the Catholic faith? Let’s see what council decides on this issue. See my earlier blog for my take on this issue.

Item 9.4.2 proposes a much wider ban on smoking in public spaces. As a non-smoker my thoughts on reading this recommendation is that it is too restrictive. In one spot it discusses the banning of smoking on the Fitness Trail. This seems a bit too tough. It’s easy enough to avoid this type of second-hand smoke and these smokers are paying their way in some respect with the heavy taxation of cigarettes. Let’s restrict smoking in confined spaces where it is difficult to avoid inhaling second hand smoke, like entrance ways and buildings, but let’s not over regulate. Council will need to strike a fair balance.

Item 9.6.1 directs council members to attend training concerning obligations under the Code. This seems to me to be a reaction to charges leveled against one of the councilors that were not pursued by the Integrity commissioner after careful review. We will see if this becomes a political issue rather than a training issue.

Item 10.4.1 is a proposed bylaw to increase the parking meter rates from $0.50 to $0.75 per hour, and the parking ticket fees by a couple of bucks. The rates for parking and tickets have not been increased since 2000. What is interesting in the proposal is that it will be possible to park for less than 30 minutes for a quarter (20 minutes) and a dime (8 minutes). This is an attractive option if you just need to drop off, or pick up, something. The Downtown Business Association is opposing the increase and requests that it be delayed until downtown renovations are complete. While it’s possible that the increase may deter parking by shoppers, it’s more likely that it will raise the price for the downtown merchants and employees to park by their stores and feed the meters. My sense is that the increase is reasonable and an appropriate way to cover costs. I don’t believe the $0.25 increase will deter shoppers. And yes I do occasionally park downtown when running an errand, and I do put money in the meters.

Item 10.4.2 proposes changes into how taxi drivers are regulated and licensed. It seems a reasonable proposal that reduces some of the expense and burden of annual renewals.

Item 10.4.4 proposes a by-law that would permit the town to initiate cleanup, at the owners cost, of properties that fail to meet the by-law standards for maintenance. in the past the town was required to take an individual to court to address the issue. This generally took too long and was a burdensome process for the town.

There are other interesting issues that didn’t make the cut for these notes and can be found in the council meeting package. There is much more detail in these packages than is ever raised in the council meetings or is covered in the press. I urge all interested people to read the council package. It can be found at the Town Office and the Library.

See you Tuesday.