It turned out to be a not too long meeting, finished by 9:15. The deputations were to the point and discussion focused on the key issues. Good work in my opinion.
Nothing controversial arose in the meeting. The potential condo development on Emily Street received some attention and provided some additional information. Thinking about development in town, what’s going on with the Age in Place development beside Canadore College? I though this was supposed to have started by now, or at least the plans should have been before Council. This seems to be a good question for Staff. The issue of Big Sound Marina and the whole federal waterfront properties received limited discussion but represent much bigger challenges for the Town. It’s my sense that the waterfront complex represents a ‘loss leader’ for the businesses in town. Without accommodation for transient boaters, the four boat launches and the town dock for event hosting, the Town would not be quite as busy in the summer. Trying to wring out a profit from the operation of Big Sound Marina and the rental of space on the town dock is admirable, but how does the value of these assets compare with the losses we incur at the Bobby Orr Community Centre?
There is additional discussion of theses issues in the text below.
The items of interest in the Councillor reports and questions of Staff included:
– the transfer station is accepting drywall
– the Cascade railway gate installation is awaiting CN, the Town has prepared the site as required
– the Town met with CN officials and had the first productive meeting in what might be decades
– Bowes Street repaving should be complete this week
Correspondence and Deputations
5.4 – Roger Alexander, Chair of the Board of Parry Sound Hydro Corporation regarding a proposed merger between Parry Sound Hydro Corporation and Lakeland Holding Ltd. [The presentation added much more detail to the nature of the merger and the financial impact on the Town. At this point I like what I see but will withhold a final opinion until the public session of December 2nd.]
There was nothing significant on the Consent Agenda.
Resolutions and Directions to Staff
9.3.1 – resolution to accept a three-year lease agreement quotation supplied by Near North Business Machines for multifunction copier equipment. [CARRIED – this included a ‘funky’ discussion about the learning cost for new equipment. We’re talking about photocopiers, it’s not like asking people to start driving cars with standard transmissions, or figure out where the ‘Start’ button is in Windows 8. I’m confident Staff is up to the copier challenge.]
9.3.2 – resolution to deem as non-taxable one-third of remuneration paid to members of Council and local boards. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
9.4.1 – two resolutions related to the operation of Big Sound Marina. The first is a call for proposal to operate Big Sound Marina. The second relates to a discussion with Small Craft Harbours regarding a divestiture of Big Sound Marina and/or the Town Docks. [CARRIED – see my preview notes for additional background. The Town will be issuing an RFP for management of Big Sound Marina and the Town Dock. It’s not clear that the Town will receive any offers that are credible. Yes, it looks like a money maker for private company, but it really isn’t, not unless they are able to raise prices considerably or find another revenue stream like renting boats or selling groceries and gas. The Town will also be approaching the Feds regarding the purchase of Big Sound Marina and the Town Dock. As noted by a couple Councillors, there could be major costs associated with the repair and upkeep of these facilities. It is said that a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. These facilities might well be a boat the size of super tanker. Let’s see where this goes.]
9.5.1 – a resolution to reauthorize for twelve months the Town’s support for parties wishing to apply for the FIT Program. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.3.1 – a by-law to permit interim tax billing and set a late payment interest rate of 1 1/4 percent per month for 2014. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.4.1 – a by-law to declare the former Fleck Street Road allowance property surplus and confirm the sale of this Town owned property. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.4.2 – a by-law to lift the holding provision for the rezoning application for 81 River Street. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.4.3 – a by-law to appoint Mark Vandermeer as a building inspector. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.4.4 – a by-law to enter into a custodial services agreement with S&B Janitorial. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
10.4.5 – a by-law to amend the lease agreement with Festival of the Sound to share the utility and heating expenses for the CP Station property. [CARRIED – limited discussion.]
10.4.6 – a by-law to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town and DDMJ Construction regarding property in the vicinity of the Champaigne Street boat launch. This concerns the retention of parking spots. [CARRIED – after some accommodation on the part of the developer. Well, I must say that was a new level of ‘business casual’ for a meeting of Council. But we are Northern Ontario aren’t we? Bears, bush pilots, miners. Developers? In the end the Town agreed that 40 double sized spots (no, not double wide), equivalent to 80 regular parking spots was acceptable. Council expressed concern about the commitment the Town was making to the developer and the possibility that they would be left holding the bag if things did not go forward as hoped. I guess they still feel burned by the Granite Harbour development. Rumour has it that the second phase of Granite Harbour is not going to be developed and the developers are trying to flip the property, for a profit. I believe the Town only gets paid for the property once development is complete and the units are sold. But the MOU the Town has in principle agreed to for the Emily Street development makes sense. The developer and and investors need some sense that they will be able to get the necessary accommodations to build the development before investing too much in the planning. It is putting the horse before the cart.]
10.5.1 – a by-law to enter into a transfer payment agreement with the Province of Ontario concerning the grant from the Province under the MIII Forest Street funding agreement. [CARRIED – no discussion.]
Waterfront Development (Parry Sound in Black & White)
These notes review only those portions of the council meeting that I see as having greater importance or general community interest. See my agenda preview posts for additional comments.
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).