Attendance totaled about 30 for this meeting of council: all members of council, nine staff members and five from media, North Star, Moose-FM and Cogeco (three). The majority of the audience was comprised of people interested in the discussion of the privatization of town services (discussed below).
It was a full agenda and the only moderately controversial issue was the privatization initiative. My sense is that council would like to have a make-over on this meeting. Nothing was wrong but time was lost discussing certain issues that perhaps did not warrant the attention and might have been better used to get through the agenda in a more paced manner.
Notable Decisions and Actions
Items 2.1.1 and 2.1.2, public meetings related to a couple of rezoning requests turned out to be non-issues with no deputations, statements or letters noted for either request.
Item 9.2.1 the authorization to purchase a new trackless tractor plus generator and asphalt heater in the amount of $167,482 was one of those issues where some time was lost. In the end council will need to make a determination as to whether they do or don’t trust town staff to make reasonable and prudent recommendations. I know that oversight is required, but these were items approved at budget time, and they came in under budget. The time for budget and spending oversight starts now, with opening discussions on the 2013 budget. This can’t be left to next February when agendas are full and backs are up against the wall. Budgets really are a 12 month a year process.
Item 9.2.2 allowing for the pump out of recreation vehicles at the town waste treatment was approved for the summer season with a review in the New Year to see if it is worth continuing. While some issues were identified, council on balance felt the benefits warranted the one season trial. I believe this makes good sense and reinforces the image of Parry Sound as being a visitor oriented community.
Item 9.4.1 to authorize the Community Development department to solicit proposals to develop an affordable triplex on the Fleck Street road allowance was approved.
Item 9.5.1 an update to the Procedural By-law took way too much time and accomplished much too little. It was left uncompleted. I have sent a letter offering my limited revisions. The by-law includes some appropriate revisions but does little to account for the increasing importance of social media as an effective and efficient means for communicating with town residents. I eagerly await the promised social media plan the town has promised is coming.
Item 9.6.1 relating to establishing the terms of reference for a committee to look into privatization of certain town services was soundly defeated. While I think it is an initiative worth looking into, if only for the purpose of knowing why we aren’t privatizing more services, it seems the initiative had little hope of being seriously considered. Not only does the issue raise grave concern among town employees and potentially conflict with existing collective agreements, the logic and the benefits of the review were not well outlined. The exercise would be interesting but unlikely to lead to anything concrete. Town council and staff have enough on their plates to keep them quite busy without another committee.
Item 10.4.1, authorizing the town to transfer the property at 66 Emily Street to Habitat for Humanity was approved.
The GIS presentation was quite good. I learned quite a bit about what we do and don’t know about the town infrastructure. This in an investment that will pay off in the years and decades to come.
That’s it. There was much more on the agenda but these are the items that struck me as most interesting.