The meeting was about as short as initially thought even with the addition of two deputations. In part this reflected the light agenda and the absence of three councillors which resulted in fewer councillor reports and the postponement of one item that council felt would be better decided by the full group.
Councillors and Mayor Reports, Questions of Staff
The water filling station on Parry Sound Drive is currently being installed.
Contractors have begun the upgrade of the waste water pump station at the corner of Beaver and Meadow Streets with a targeted completion of mid-September.
The Mayor expressed concern and dismay about the lack of respect people are showing for the town. He was referring specifically to the flowers that had been torn out of the planters along the side of the Bowes Street Bridge. The question is whether they are being vandalized or stolen. I was made aware of another situation in town where some ‘ladies’ were confronted when taking flowers from town property and expressed neither remorse nor a willingness to replant them.
Correspondence and Deputation
There were two unscheduled deputations. The first was primarily concerned with the Downtown Business Association (DBA) adding Market Square Park to the Downtown Improvement Area. The case was made that the park didn’t belong in the area and its inclusion could have a negative impact on the park. The points were general and didn’t identify any particular risks. This was also the subject of a letter to Council.
The deputation above brought a response from the chairperson of the DBA arguing that inclusion would be good for the park and the DBA, and that this was common in other communities.
There was nothing on the Consent Agenda.
Resolutions and Directions to Staff
7.1 – this item came from the closed council session and set certain reporting conditions for Parry Sound Taxi. This relates to the filing of provincial charges against at least one of Parry Sound Taxi’s drivers. Very little information was provided.
7.2 – again from the closed session, there will be some changes in fire fighter retirement ages.
7.3 – the last item from the closed session approved some changes in pension plans. Although little detail was provided Councillor McCauley offered to provide more information to anyone interested.
9.5.1 – a resolution to permit Canadore College to use town property for a sign at the intersection of Parry Sound Drive and College Drive was approved.
9.5.2 – the BOCC Ice Allocation Policy was approved with limited discussion. The corresponding by-law, 10.5.3, received more discussion and reflected a little bit of anguish on the part of the councillors.
9.5.3 – the resolution to revitalize the skate park facility in line with a proposal from Parry Sound Bicycle and Town Staff was approved with limited discussion, and great hope. I feel the approval was a little premature, proposals for less expensive projects have received much more scrutiny from Council. But I’m hopeful that it will be a good investment. Council should be reminded that at the 2013 budget sessions they agreed that investing in the park was not a great idea because it has a limited season and so few of the youth in Parry Sound were likely to use it. But that reserve amount seemed to be ‘burning a hole in their pocket’. Because the money has already been ‘reserved’ it has no impact on the budget so there really was no downside for Council with their approval. And it meant one last thing to deal with in the future.
10.3.1 – the Downtown Business Association boundary adjustment by-law was postponed. The issue as noted above in the deputations is related to Market Square Park’s inclusion in the DBA area. Personally I’m torn on this issue. I see no real reason to deny the inclusion of the park in the DBA area, but I have not been given any good reason to include it. Just because other communities do it really doesn’t mean we should. I think what we have here is ‘failure to communicate’. Other than the park area it seems the DBA and Council have reached agreement on the boundaries while excluding several properties on Miller Street. Stay tuned.
10.5.1 – this by-law to provide Town staff with the authority to authorize special events that make use of municipal roads was approved with only a couple minor points of clarification.
10.5.2 – the rezoning by-law to permit the Age in Place facility on College Drive to proceed was carried.
10.5.3 – a by-law to set the 2013 ice rental rates for the Bobby Orr Community Centre was approved with concern on the part of the three Councillors in attendance. The 2013 rates were set about 20% lower than last year in hopes of securing more rental business. The arenas in the surrounding communities apparently charge significantly less than at the BOCC and have been taking market share from Parry Sound. This results in an increased facility deficit. The lower rates for 2013 will quite likely not improve the facility’s use for the upcoming season, but it might have a positive impact in future years once the pricing policy is understood and groups decide to return. There is also the issue of the declining youth population who are major users of the ice surface. As the town focuses on attracting an elderly population it will mean less use of the BOCC ice surface. How many physicians recommend that seniors take up ice skating for exercise? Well maybe orthopedic surgeons looking for more business ;-). The town needs to think about how the BOCC fits into the scheme of services it provides for the town and the community. It’s much like Waubuno Beach which is operated at a loss, albeit a much smaller one.
These notes review only those portions of the council meeting that I see as having greater importance or general community interest. Please see my earlier Council Agenda Preview post for more discussion and details concerning the various agenda items.
The official minutes from council meetings are available at the Town of Parry Sound website, no later than the Friday following the meeting. The full council proceeding are available on video through Cogeco. Schedule details are available from the town office (705-746-2101).
Flames Over Parry Sound. (July 2013)