Well it’s back to more serious decision making this week. After a couple of meetings where the issues were non-controversial and others were postponed, tomorrow’s meeting requires a few decisions. There is nothing too tough, but it will be good practice for the budgeting process. What I don’t really understand is why staff and council wait so late to get down to business on the budget. I was encouraged when the budget discussions started in September. Since then there has been little obvious progress. Are we taking cues from our American neighbours who are heading to a fiscal cliff because they keep putting of making some very obvious but painful decisions?

This week’s meeting theme is the “Old Pump House”. There are multiple resolutions, bylaws and a deputation related to the future of this town asset and unique link to Parry Sound’s past. There is no question that the property will be put on the market, the only question is whether a buyer will be able to tear it down and rebuild, or a new owner will be required to put it to adaptive reuse. That is, retain its key heritage features as it is updated to 21st century standards. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

The closed session of the meeting has a couple of items related to the Emergency & Protective Services department. As usual Parry Sound Hydro Corporation is on the closed session agenda. Ever wonder what goes on there that we never hear about? If it were a town department there would be much greater transparency.

Agenda Highlights:

 2.1.2 – is a zoning by-law amendment that seems non-controversial; turning a 4-unit residence into 5-units.

4.4, 8.1 – are a letter and a resolution in support of a wind farm at Henvey Inlet. This development claims to be the biggest wind farm in Canada.

5.2, 9.3.1, 9.3.2, 9.5.1, 9.5.2, 9.5.3, 10.3.1, 10.3.2 – this is a series of resolutions, by-laws and a deputation related to the Old Pump House, also known as the Former Waterworks Pumphouse. My sense is that council will approve the initiatives including a heritage designation for the property, but not a Heritage Conservation Easement Agreement. The net/net is that someone will be able to buy the property and make use of it as long as they do not tear it down, or unreasonably alter the physical exterior. But, that’s only a guess. The issue could also be ‘postponed’ and sent back to staff for more work because that’s the easiest thing to do.

9.1.2, 9.1.3 – are resolutions requesting equipment for the Public Works department, a vacuum truck and a scissor lift, both items are used. The funds proposed to pay for these unbudgeted capital purchases are from other Public Works projects that came in under budget. Surprisingly these projects did not actually involve sandbags. I’m in favour of the purchases; they can save the town time and money, but I’d hold off until there is heat in the BOCC. That may provide a little bit more motivation for the Public Works department to get the heat turned on before the New Year.

9.4.1 – is an item setting a date for a Special Council meeting date to start the 2013 budget process. At last the games begin.

9.5.4 – is a resolution to replace the Volunteer Management Policy. The new policy seems to address problems with the earlier policy and revisions that had been circulated earlier this year.

9.6.1 – is a direction for the preparation of a letter to the Ontario Minister of Education requesting funding for Parry Sound crossing guards.

10.3.4 – is a by-law to raise the fines for parking violations. This is the second part of the increased parking meters rate. Seems reasonable to me. I know of people who play the lottery when parking in-town. They find they get a better payback from paying the occasional fine rather than feeding the meter. Are you feeling lucky? Oh, it’s now December so all parking in town is free. There is also a direction to develop a policy for fines related to municipal by-law violations.

10.5.1 – is a by-law permitting Artists Round the Sound to display their art in the Stockey Centre for a nominal rental fee. Seems reasonable to me.

10.5.2 – is a by-law to enter into a 3-year agreement with Canadian Tire to advertise on the BOCC’s ice resurfacer (no it’s not a Zamboni, it’s an Olympia). It’s worth a bit more than $3,000 a year. This type of deal seems a much better use of staff time than the bench advertising program that was supported by council at their last meeting.

Any bets about whether it all gets covered (without multiple postponements)? To make things a little easier for you I have a direct link to the agenda that is hosted at this site. Unfortunately you still need to go the library or town hall to review the council package. See you there.

Bridge Art – Think Big

Think Big