Note: this post has been edited, with
strike-throughs, based on additional information received after this preview was posted. The key point is that while funds do come from the Park Reserve, they were put there as part of the 2015 Budget Big Sound Marina upgrade approval, because it was considered to be the most ‘appropriate’ reserve to ‘park’ the funds until they were needed. It does appear though that there is still an additional pre-budget approval request for about $142,000. The reason for the urgency is not only that the facility needs to be in operation for the 2016 boating season, but matching federal funds have an expiry date.
The original post, with strike-thoughs, starts here.
Once again it is a lighter agenda in terms of content. In my opinion there is only one thing that strikes me as an issue. It concerns Item 9.1.1 – “Redevelopment of Dock “B” – Big Sound Marina”. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be an issue, the dock needs upgrades to the tune of about $400,000. But digging a little deeper the concern becomes obvious.
The Resolution proposes to fund a portion of the Parry Sound costs, about $140,000, from the Parks Reserve fund, prior to the 2016 budget deliberations. The balance, about $142,000 is to come from a debenture. It’s another pre-budget approval request, a very big one. But that’s not the big issue in my opinion.
My feeling is that the proposal to use the Parks Reserve to fund a major upgrade to Big Sound Marina is wrong, wrong, wrong. Since when was Big Sound Marina considered to be a park? Are there any facilities there that cater to the uses and interests of Parry Sound residents? It seems to me that Big Sound Marina is a service for touring boaters, businesses in Town who derive revenue from these boaters, and the for-profit operators of Big Sound Marina. A Parry Sound resident can’t tie their boat up at Big Sound Marina without paying a ‘parking’ fee. And most Parry Sounders don’t have a boat. So what qualifies this as a park upgrade, and why is Staff proposing to reach into the Parry Sound Parks Reserve to fund it? The Town doesn’t even own Big Sound Marina.
I will not argue with the need to make the described repairs,
but I do object to the Parks Reserve funds being used to pay for it. These funds are intended to be used for upgrades and repairs to our ‘public parks’ which include Waubuno Beach, Yvonne Williams Park, Booth Street Park and the like. Much as the proposed use of the Parking Reserve to subsidize Free Parking Downtown, it’s much easier for Council to approve these expenses if they can pull them out of reserves and not face their reality as a budget item. It really isn’t appropriate to reach into a totally separate reserve fund to solve a problem. Big Sound Marina is not a park, and it certainly isn’t a Parry Sound park. It’s not quite like reaching into a reserve set aside for widows and orphans, but it seems to be a misuse of funds. I hope that Council will recognize the issue and require funding come from other sources. Let’s not drain the Parks Reserve for non-park related uses. But of course there may be a suggestion to put in a swing set and ‘create’ a new park. Let’s hope not.
2.1.1 – “Council will hold a public meeting to consider a proposed Zoning By-law amendment under Section 34 of the Planning Act The purpose of the proposed Zoning By-law amendment is to amend the Highway Commercial (C3) zone to permit residential development subject to reduced site specific setbacks. The motel is proposed to be converted into 12 residential units, and a new 10-plex is proposed on John/Church Street.”
4.3 – James Chirico Medical Officer of Health. Re: update on the accommodation planning phase 2 – tender process for the new North Bay Parry Sound health unit, located in North Bay.
4.4 – Malcolm Fraser, Resident. Re: concerns regarding fluoridation of the town’s water.
4.5 – Joseph Maloney, Parry Sounders for progressive water management. Re: Provision of Dr. Limeback’s slide presentation as a response to Dr. Jim Chirico Medical Officer of Health presentation to Council on October 6 2015.
5.1 – Brian Downing, President of OPSEU Paramedics, Local #342. Re: information regarding successor rights with respect to the proposed request for proposal for land ambulance services for the district of Parry Sound. I’m not sure what this concerns but there is a Land Ambulance item, 9.2.2, on the agenda that concerns budget and levy for 2016.
5.2 – Trevor Penn, Director of Finance and POA Court Services. Re: review of asset management and 20-year capital.
8.1 – Ombudsman investigation – Heads of Council Meetings. Resolution. “.… Now therefore the result that counsel for the town of Parry Sound acknowledge is receipt of the Ombudsman’s Report and will post it on the town website.” There seems to be a little bit of smoke here, but it doesn’t seem to qualify as a fire.
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – Redevelopment of Dock “B” – Big Sound Marina. Resolution. “That Council excepts the tender received from Kropf Industrial Inc. in the amount of $393,323 (excluding HST), for the Big Sound Marina Redevelopment project, this being the lowest of four tenders received; and that Council grant 2016 pre-budget approval.”
Let’s not start the practice of dipping into reserve funds to cover unrelated expenses. If this is a legitimate expense let’s put it into the budget and pay for it as part of the 2016 levy, or increase the size of the debenture. And what is with this pre-budget approval request for $267,000? This is an expense that should have been considered last year, and put in to the 2015 budget. I understand that the upgrades need to be made prior to the boating season, but it shouldn’t be a surprise requiring pre-budget approval. This ‘pre-budget’ approach means that the request doesn’t need to compete for funding with other priorities, a competition that may delay it for a year or two.
9.2.1 – Free Parking Downtown. Direction. “That Council direct Staff to continue the Free Parking Downtown program until June 1, 2016. A recommendation on a future parking strategy will return to Council as part of the comprehensive strategic review for the downtown.” This seems a necessary action given the decision to expand and extend the review of Free Parking Downtown.
9.2.2 – Land Ambulance 2016 Budget. Resolution. “That upon the recommendation of the EMS Advisory Committee, Council of the Town of Parry Sound approve the 2016 Land Ambulance budget with a 3% municipal levy increase in the total amount of $8,572,705.81, attached as Schedule “A”.” And it looks as though it will be a 3% increase for each of the next four years.
9.4.1 – 2015 Parry Sound Public Library Budget. Resolution. “That the Council for the Town of Parry Sound hereby approves the 2015 budget for the Parry Sound Public Library, attached Schedule “A”.”
10.3.1 – Renewal of contract with Integrity Commissioner. “Being a By-law to appoint an Integrity Commissioner for the Town of Parry Sound and to authorize the execution of an agreement with Suzanne Craig.” I’m glad to see Ms Craig continues as the Town’s ombudsman. Her review of a complaint last year let the Town off on a technicality; you haven’t done something wrong if there isn’t a rule/law prohibiting it.
There is more but you will need to take a look at the agenda to see if there is anything I missed that is important to you. I did notice that the agenda now does not allow content copying. I’m not sure if this is, or isn’t, deliberate; but it really doesn’t work. It only makes it a bit more work to prepare this Parry Sound Council Preview.
See you Tuesday night.
The Jewel of the Jewel? (Parry Sound in Glorious Colour)