This week’s meeting of Council has a few interesting items worth pointing out. The full agenda package is available at the Town’s website for those interested in reviewing all of the issues in more detail.

The more interesting items in my opinion are:

5.1 – Deputation, Park to Park (P2P). This not-for-profit organization providing trail services for the motorized and non-motorized trail connecting Algonquin park to Killbear is making a deputation to propose a motorized pathway through Parry Sound. Parry Sound represents one of the very few ‘breaks’ in the system which prevent a connection of the trail for motorized vehicles.

9.1.3 – Resolution, Proposal Award 71 Parry Sound Road. This resolution requests approval of a proposal to develop 71 Parry Sound Road as it represents ‘Town surplus property’. I believe Town residents should be concerned by this proposal, or at least the financial aspects of the proposal. The resolution concerns Town owned property of 23 acres that is one of the last major tracts of land in Parry Sound suitable for residential development. It is a challenging piece of property, not because of excessive rock, but because it is adjacent to the railway and it includes wetland features. A proposal from GK York Management Services proposed a development of up to 189 housing units at prices from $170-$225,000. This amount to a project value on the order of $32 to $42 million dollars. This is welcome development for the Town and will add additional tax revenue. It will also increase service requirements, hopefully in line with the tax revenue. My issue is with respect to the sales price for the property. The developer is offering $40,000 for the property and the Town has an assessment of $64,000. Both of these figures represent about 1/10th of 1% (0.1%) of the total value of the project. This is an unreasonably low proposed selling price for the property. I would estimate the value is more on the order of $400,000, or about 1% of the development value, probably more. The argument is made that this is an expensive piece of land to develop. Not really. There is water, sewer and gas right next door and the road leads up the property. This is not like a piece of land in our neighbouring municipalities that might well require the installation of water and septic on each lot (with the necessary lot size expansion) and probably a new or upgraded road to access the property. How did Georgian Greens do just outside the Parry Sound town line without Town services?

No, this is not a very good deal for Parry Sound. Development will come, there is no need to sell out at bargain basement prices to induce developers. There really is very little for developers to choose from. Without the necessary infrastructure available elsewhere (water, sewer, gas, paved roads, grocery stores, hospital, physicians, dentists, and even high speed telecom) there is no chance they will take their ‘business’ to Seguin, McDougall or Carling. They can sit on their money and choose not to develop in Parry Sound but they realize that if they don’t another developer will. Parry Sound is a very desirable retirement and social services destination for people from Southern Ontario who will look at Parry Sound prices as a bargain. In watching Town Council and Staff I have begun to understand that the Town, intentionally or not, is positioning itself as Elliott Lake South. Let’s say no to this cut throat deal for now and see how things develop – they will. If you want a deal real bad I have a real bad deal for you.

9.4.1 – Resolution, Columbaria Reserve. The Town wants to put aside $25K for purchasing and installing columbaria in the Town’s cemeteries. It seems we need to offer people an alternative to heading out to Sylvan Acres for burial services or relying on memorial trees in our parks and the spreading of ashes at their base.

9.5.1 – Resolution, Bay Street Retaining Wall. The Town is ready to award the contract to rebuild the retaining wall on Bay Street. It has come under the estimated budget which is good news. It was the lowest of the four bids received, with the major difference in price being associated with the precast concrete block. Is it just a better value block, or is it a cheaper product? I wonder if it comes with a warranty or some sense of its expected useful life. I don’t want to see it replaced in a dozen years because of material failure that could have been avoided with the selection of a more expensive bid and better materials.

9.5.2 – Resolution, Forest Street Reconstruction. The Town is being asked to award a contract for $3,311,050 to Fowler Construction for the Forest Street rebuild. The province is covering 90% of the expense.

10.4.1 – By-law, Downtown Business Association (DBA) levy. This is an issue I would normally not cover but as it relates to the upgrade to Market Square Park, for which the Town received a TD Green Streets, it’s worth a comment. It seems the Market Street project is dead as there is no money in the budget for the DBA’s contribution to the project. So let’s just have Council and the DBA state the very obvious and not waste the time of volunteers in town by holding sham meetings. It has been suggested to me that the project will come back to life next year as an initiative of Council, who will receive the credit but without benefit of the TD Green Streets funding.

There is much more and you are encouraged to check out the full agenda package at the Town’s website.

Sun Shines Bright on My Old Parry Sound Home (Parry Sound in Black & White)