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As was suggested in this meeting’s preview post, this was a non-controversial meeting that was finished in an hour and a half, even with two deputations. It’s nice for council and staff to have an easy meeting because the heavy lifting will begin at the next meeting and continue until there is an approved 2013 budget. That may of course not be until March or April based on last year’s performance.

There were two deputations, one in support of an increased investment in cardiovascular life saving information, resources and training for the public. The second requested heritage designation for the town’s old pump house that is the subject of a future decision related to putting it on the market for sale. The designation would not restrict sale of the property but would require a new owner to retain the building’s heritage aspects.

Key Points – Staff Q&A and Councillor Reports:

Spectator heating at the Bobby Orr Community Centre is still being discussed with a target to have it installed and operational by the second week of December. Let’s hope the warm weather continues until then, because remediation of the heating problem keeps getting pushed back.

There were slightly fewer incidents as reported by the police for the period of June through September relative to 2011. Break and enter events were somewhat higher.

Parry Sound residents can expect a rebate on their electric bills starting this month or next. Parry Sound Power has overcharged customers for the past few years to the tune of about $186,000 to meet provincial debt retirement obligations. That money will be returned to current Parry Sound customers over the next twelve months or so as a rebate on their monthly electrical bill.

Agenda Highlights:

4.2 – a letter requesting permission to cut through pavement for the installation of a natural gas line was referred to Public Works for follow up.

9.1.1 – a resolution to investigate the costs for bringing the town’s transit system in compliance with AODA regulations was approved. There was not much optimism expressed by staff and council. Compliance is possible, it only takes money, but the cost is expected to be very high while ridership (usage) remains quite low.

9.2.1, 9.2.2 – relating to the purchase and disposal of ambulances (about $230,000 plus taxes) was approved. Item 10.2.1, a by-law to enter into an agreement with Burk’s Falls to lease an emergency services medical station, was also approved.

9.3.1a direction to prepare lots on Tower Hill for sale was withdrawn. Apparently the property was received from the province several decades ago with a covenant that restricts it to public, not private, use. The Community Development department will look into this further and bring it before council if the restriction can be lifted. Item 10.3.1, a by-law to prepare the Isabella Street property for sale was approved.

9.3.2 – a resolution to discontinue discussions with a firm for advertising on additional town benches was defeated. Well council surprised me on this one. I estimate based on my past experience it will take on the order of 100-200 hours of staff time to make this happen, for about $1,000 per year in income, and the outcome is not assured. And council will need to review and approve a final agreement, and they indicated that they want to have a say in how many benches will be installed, where, and what will be advertised. And of course if the advertising company wants to install the benches where the town currently has benches, town staff will need to relocate the existing benches (more work). And it was stated by council that the firm, not the town, would clear the snow away from the benches. Yeah, right! And they’ll also pick up the trash? It’s my feeling that council has better things to do than get involved with benches, especially if staff recommends against them. Penny-wise and pound-foolish. Speaking of penny wise, it looks as though the budget discussions will start in December. That potential $1,000 won’t go far in bridging an $800,000 or so budget gap. And if it takes 100 hours of staff time to save $1,000 they’ll be earning $10 per hour, if we exclude the cost of attorney review of any agreement. But that $1,000 will be recurring revenue. I hope this is not council’s general approach to addressing the $800,000 or so budget shortfall. It seems like ‘easy’ money, but it really is not ‘cheap’ money.

9.4.2 – council agreed to renew its general insurance for $220,000 (tax included) with the current supplier.

9.4.3 – council approved a direction for town staff to follow up on the recommendations of the Rail Safety Committee.

9.6.1 – a direction to grant Councillor Keith permission to attend meetings to discuss vandalism at the booster station was approved. The discussion on this point turned a little testy between the ‘law and order’ and ‘negotiate first’ factions on council. I’m staying out of this one.

There were additional issues discussed. I’ll post a link here to the final meeting report once it is issued. You can always read it on the town’s website, if you can find it, about two days after the council meeting.

Bridge Art – Smile