I hope that everyone enjoyed the last few weeks: warm weather, sunny skies and a respite from Council meetings. It seems that as the mosquitos started to fade away the visitors started to arrive. And as I’m reminded, and agree, they are tourists not terrorists. So let’s treat our visitors as valued guests.
Council will be pretty busy in the next few weeks. This week’s agenda is not only quite full; it also includes a couple of challenging issues (more below). Individual Councillors will need to decide and, as appropriate, declare their intention to stand for reelection this October. If they are running they will need to at least go through the motions of organizing and operating a reelection campaign.
To date only the Mayor and two Parry Sound residents have expressed their interest in running for Council. I wonder if the two ‘newbies’ hoping to serve on Council will attend at least a couple of the Council meetings. If you can’t drag your butt out to attend at least a few of the meetings one has to wonder if you have what it takes to actually serve on Council. Council meetings aren’t yet live and online, so you can’t sit at home in your underwear with a beer and popcorn in your lap and place your votes online. But it may be coming soon, this Fall we will be able to do just that when we cast our votes. (That would be an interesting post-election survey question. “How were you dressed when you cast your vote in the Parry Sound municipal elections.”)
Okay let’s take a look at what’s on the agenda. A reminder; I am only identifying a few of what I consider the more interesting items on the agenda. Head over to the Town’s website for a copy of the full agenda package, in this case it’s two separate files and about 275 pages.
Closed Session items
c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (14 River St). It’s not clear what this item concerns. The address, 14 River Street, appears to be a privately owned small home directly across from the Gospel Hall. I can only imagine that the Town might want to acquire the home to allow for some sort of community sewage management station, perhaps similar to what is at the intersection of Beaver and Meadow Streets. I understand that there are waste water issues in this area.
4.5 – Sewage drainage issues. An interesting request for the reimbursement of about $5,000 in out-of-pocket plumbing costs related to what the petitioner claims is a failure of Town infrastructure.
5.1 – Natalia Griva regarding 2 Avenue Road. I’m not sure what this individual, the owner of the property, has to say but it probably concerns her earlier rezoning request. This issue is also on the agenda as Item 10.1.1. (See below for more information.)
8.2 – 3rd Quarterly Financial and Key Performance Objectives Review. Tentatively scheduled for September 30th at 6:00 PM.
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – Amendment to Site Plan approval Application – Hands the Family Help Network – 2 May Street. Resolution. The Town is proposing to reject the applicant’s request to approve a new Development Agreement for an expansion of the facility. The issue seems to be responsibility for a ‘grinder pump’. The Town had previously (1988) assumed responsibility for this item and now wishes to transfer it to Hands. [Disclosure; I am a board member of this non-profit organization that provides mental health services to children and adults.]
9.1.2 – Consent Application B12/2014(PS) – Healey – 47 Marion. Resolution. Just when you thought it was over, it’s back again. Well sort of. This concerns the property on Marion Avenue that was the subject of drainage concerns and decisions over the last couple of Council meetings. The applicant now wants the Town to allow for a secondary shared right-of-way access to the property. A couple neighbours are opposing the request.
9.5.1 – Rotary Club Storage Facility. Resolution. The Rotary Club is requesting approval to construct a 12’ x 24’ shed adjacent to the Kinsman parking lot for storage. The Club is proposing to cover all of the costs related to constructing the shed and then transfer ownership of the building to the Town at no cost in exchange for a twenty year lease at $1 per year with the Town covering the insurance costs.
10.1.1 – Rezoning Application – Z14-05 – Griva – 2 Avenue Road. By-law. Where to start with this issue? I really can’t hope to capture the drama, twists and turns as it relates to this issue. Let me very briefly summarize the current status of the matter along with a few ‘factoids’ to provide some context.
- Staff is proposing Council approve the application to rezone the property as a duplex. The logic for this recommendation is that the application is consistent with current provincial zoning policy and that even if the applicant has not been in compliance with past by-laws and regulations they should not be denied the right to come into compliance.
- The neighbours will have none of it. There have been additional petitions and letters submitted opposing the rezoning application. The whole package is about 75 pages and is available in at the Town’s website (2014-08-12, Part 1).
- Staff’s recommendation is well reasoned and argued. It’s not clear that Council will accept the recommendation. They previously rejected a Staff recommendation regarding a development on Belvedere Avenue for reasons that I can only assume were political rather than practical or regulation based.
- I encourage everyone to read the full package if you have an extra hour or so. One interesting ‘factoid’ that popped up was in a letter from Robert and Brenda Drummond who seem to have done their homework. They claim that the current MPAC designation of the property is as a triplex, and it is taxed as a triplex. So how does this fit with the applicant’s request to rezone the property from a single family dwelling to a duplex? It makes one’s head hurt.
- The property on 2 Avenue Road has an MPAC assessment of $651,000. A big property with a corresponding big tax bill. This assessment is about 2 to 3 times that of the neighbouring properties.
One final thought: if the rezoning is approved for a duplex I hope that the Town will ensure that there are separate water and power meters for the two residences. I suspect too many residences in Town that have been converted to duplexes, triplexes and rooming houses are still operating with a single unmetered water meter and a single power meter. In these cases the rest of us are being taken advantage of. If you want to create duplexes please ensure that you are paying your share of the public utility costs and delivery charges through separate metering.
10.1.3 – Disposal of Town Lands, (land and waterlot), abutting 11A Bay Street. By-law. This concerns the small spit of land and the associated waterlot that abuts the Georgian Bay Airway operation. The Town is proposing to sell the land and waterlot to Georgian Bay Airways (GBA) for $1,000. The logic is that the land is only accessible from the property currently owned by GBA and they have been using the land for a number of years. There is a need to be careful here. The price is remarkably low and one of the owners of GBA is a Parry Sound Councillor. I am sure that individual will recuse themself from the discussion and the decision.
Nonetheless let’s make sure that everyone’s hands are very clean on this. The sale is reasonable but the price seems to be too low. Better perhaps to sell it for $1 than pretend $1,000 is a reasonable market price. I’m sure many people would be happy to pay as much as $5,000 and lease it back to GBA for their use. The Town recently sold a large tract of land for well under what market value might have suggested in hopes that it would encourage development. Where does below market pricing start and end? Who exactly is allowed to benefit from this type of non-public sale? Careful, we don’t have that much more land to ‘give away’.
10.4.1 – Reserve and Reserve Fund Policy. By-law. The Town is tidying up its Reserve Fund policies and the reducing the number of funds for simpler and more transparent management.
10.4.2 – Establishment of a Capital Asset Legacy Reserve Fund. By-Law. Remember that $3.9 million we were to have received with the merger of Parry Sound Hydro and Lakeland Power? Well the cheque, actually bank transfer, arrived July 1st but it turns out we have already committed $1.3 million of it to help ensure there was no tax rate increase in an election year. The remaining $2.6 million is going into a reserve fund to support capital fund projects in Parry Sound.
There is much more and you are encouraged to download the Council agenda and read it in more detail. If you have an issue your options are to write a letter to Town Staff and/or Council, call one of the Councillors, or show up and express your concerns in the deputation portion of the meeting. Reservations are not required.
See you Tuesday night. I’m interested in how Council handles these issues. Who says that nothing happens in the summer months?
Summertime When the Living is Easy? Not When It’s Business Season! (Parry Sound in Black & White)