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This post provides a brief preview of items on the upcoming Parry Sound Town Council meeting on August 14th. Please head over to the town’s website for a copy of the agenda. A copy of the council meeting package is available for review at the town office and the town library (closed Mondays).

I’d also like to announce that Parry Sounds and Sights, this blog, has a new Facebook page (link). I’ll use the Facebook page to post up some short notes, links and photos that are relevant to life in Parry Sound. This blog is also available through the Facebook page.

Agenda Items

Deputations:

Parry Sound Taxi will be making a presentation to town council about the challenges they face in getting timely approval for new drivers. Based on the letter included in the council meeting package and recent press coverage there is considerable frustration on the part of the taxi service operators with the current approval process. Like too many regulated services there continue to be new layers of regulations added on to private service providers that may in the end make it cost prohibitive to remain in business or provide the level of service that the public can afford.

Item 8.2: This is a resolution to encourage the construction and operation of solar energy generation. It seems to be an administrative gesture that has no real impact on the town. And on the subject of solar energy does anybody know what’s going on with the privately financed solar energy project on town property that was approved last year? I believe the province has reduced the rates it pays for electricity from new solar installations to the point that new solar installations aren’t a slam-dunk way to make money. I’m glad the town passed on the opportunity to co-invest last year.

Items 9.3.1, 9.3.4 and 9.3.5: This is a series of resolutions related to Sign By-law requests. I’m not sure I understand all of the issues but I hope council ensures that Parry Sound doesn’t become littered with signs that really make the place look like a southern ‘border town’ and exudes a sense of desperation. Perhaps the sign regulations can be relaxed for the summer months to service the tourist market with the understanding that they are removed in the off-season especially if the service is no longer being offered. I believe the Downtown Business Association (DBA) has put forward a plan for signage within the DBA area that might serve as a practical template for the whole town.

Item 9.4.1: This is a resolution to ‘write-off’ unpaid inactive sewer and water accounts going back to 2004. We now have a total for this write-off; $57,000, of which about $11,000 is related to unpaid bills for 2011.

Item 9.4.2: This resolution relates to town staff, elected official and their social media responsibilities. It really is a summary of what shouldn’t be done by staff and council. I hope we will soon see a draft policy of what they should do to better keep town residents and tax payers ‘in the loop’ with respect to town activities and plans.

Item 9.4.3: This is a direction to staff to study and examine opportunities to improve the delivery of town services with the intent of reducing costs as well as ways to increase revenues. This all relates to the upcoming 2013 budget which will be a challenge to balance. I’m glad to see this type of proactive initiative, early is always better when it comes to strategic, tactical and budget planning.

Item 9.6.1: This is a direction to staff to investigate a by-law to control the building of fences. I’m not sure we really need more regulation unless there are good reasons and the regulations are applicable only to exceptional situations.

Item 10.6.1: This item relates to the business of the Parry Sound Hydro Corporation. The very short minutes included in the council meeting package provide a little insight into the capital investment plans of Parry Sound Power (I will use Parry Sound Power to refer to the ‘conglomerate’ realizing there are a number of separate companies). The new generation facility project is referred to in the minutes as “PowerGen” and “PGen”. Brenda Dobson and Peter Brown would be responsible for the shareholder’s (Town of Parry Sound) financial control and accountability. This is good news, the town needs to be ‘in the loop’. There was mention of looking for outside funding (FedNor, Infrastructure Ontario) to support the project. The amount noted in the minutes was $10.9 million. Enough said; let’s see when the ‘shareholder’s shareholders’ (that’s us) are provided with some details and allowed to weigh in on the project. Not many good things happen behind closed doors.

An aside; if you know the people who operate this business please ask them to ‘clean up’ this situation (photo below). One ripped and on the ground, the other standing tall but ripped doesn’t reflect well on the business or the area. It’s been this way for a couple of weeks at least. South of the border they take this as a sign of disrespect, and rightly so. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.