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There are a few things in the closed session of Council that may be of interest to the Public, but we are left wondering what they might be. My interest is piqued in the context of Mayor McGarvey’s public support for a proposed casino in Parry Sound. I suspect he would not have made that statement had it not been the subject of some closed session discussions. What else is up? Not everything in closed sessions come to fruition. Like most people I really don’t like surprises that are discussed in closed session, brought to open session, and then passed without public input.

There are several interesting items on the agenda this week. Nothing earth shattering, but still worth the Public’s review. I offer my first thoughts below. I end this post with a discussion of the upcoming budget discussion. I suggest people attend the sessions. There seems to be an appetite on Council to do something big to kick-start development. That usually means an upfront investment and putting public dollars at risk. There is nothing wrong with that as long as there is full transparency and the opportunity for the Public to ask questions and provide comments.

Closed Session Items

c) a proposed or pending acquisition of land for municipal or local board purposes (Treetops Community Forest, Property Appraisal, Potential Development Plans)

e) litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board. (William Street Reconstruction)

 f) the receiving of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose. (Draft Lease Agreement)

Public Meeting

2.1.1 – Council will hold a public meeting to consider a proposed Official Plan Amendment and a proposed Zoning By-law amendment under Section 22 and Section 34 of the Planning Act. The purpose of the proposed Official Plan Amendment is to permit a Bank in the former Easy Home building, locate in the same complex as Dollarama and Mark’s Work Warehouse. The purpose and effect of the proposed Zoning By-law amendment is to amend the existing SP26.59 zone to permit a Bank in addition to the existing permitted uses, subject to the C5 zoning provisions. The proposed Zoning By-law Amendment will implement the Official Plan Amendment. The legal description of the property is Part of Lots 25 and 26, Concession one, formerly in the Township of McDougall but now in the Town of Parry Sound. The property is locally known as 1 Pine Drive.
I wonder if the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association will be opposing this request. It has been my understanding from attending a number of council and planning meetings that the three Bs – Booze, Bars and Banks were restricted to the downtown core. (Or was one of them Brothels? Kidding, this review can get a little bit dry when you aren’t paid to read, attend or write about municipal politics. Actually that other B may become a more important business segment if Parry Sound gets a casino, although I suspect that there is more freelancing than ever. Like Uber, there must be an app for that. First thoughts on the casino issue later this week.) The location of core businesses was a major consideration but seems to have waned in the last terms of Council as there is now a more compliant DBA Board.

Deputations

5.1 – Andrea Gaspar, CEO Parry Sound Public Library, Terry Zanussi, Board Chair and Ashleigh Laughren, Program Co-ordinator. Re: 2017 Library Budget

5.2 – Gail Burrows, President of the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce. Re: Annual Year in Review

Resolutions and Direction to Staff

9.1.1 – By-law Enforcement – Animal control review. Resolution. 1. That Council direct staff to commence the Public Notice process to advise the community of the proposed amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw. Said amendment will change the dog license from annual dog license to a lifetime license at a cost of $30.00 (one time fee) for pet owners who currently have a municipal dog license and $50.00 (one time fee) for the procurement of a new municipal dog license; and 2. That Council direct staff to include $3,500.00 for Spay/Neuter Assistance Program in the 2017 Budget for consideration; and Further, direct staff to work with the high volume spay/neuter clinic to establish if the Spay/Neuter event in 2017 is feasible; and 3. That Council direct staff to notify the public of the proposed change in the Feral Cat Program. Being the municipality will not be trapping feral cats in 2017; however, the municipality will loan/lease traps to individuals interested in the wellbeing of feral cats. The municipality will continue to pay for the cost of surgery pursuant to the Spay/Neuter Program.
This seems to be part of a concerted effort on the part of By-Law to handle their workload more efficiently. They have been cut back in terms of staff and need to do as much with less. It’s all a consequence of the loss of parking revenues.

9.2.1 – October 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan Update. Resolution. That the October, 2016 Strategic Plan Implementation Update Report, attached as Schedule “A”, be hereby approved by Council.
I will review the report late this week and provide my comments in a separate post.

9.2.3 – What’s Next Ontario? Resolution. Whereas recent polling, conducted on behalf of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario indicates 76% of Ontarians are concerned or somewhat concerned property taxes will not cover the cost of infrastructure while maintaining municipal services, and 90% agree maintaining safe infrastructure is an important priority for their communities; and Whereas infrastructure and transit are identified by Ontarians as the biggest problems facing their municipal government; and Whereas a ten-year projection {2016-2025) of municipal expenditures against inflationary property tax and user fee increases, shows there to be an unfunded average annual need of $3.6 billion to fix local infrastructure and provide for municipal operating needs; and Whereas the $3.6 billion average annual need would equate to annual increases of 4.6% (including inflation) to province-wide property tax revenue for the next ten years; and Whereas this gap calculation also presumes all existing and multi-year planned federal and provincial transfers to municipal governments are fulfilled; and Whereas if future federal and provincial transfers are unfulfilled beyond 2015 levels, it would require annual province-wide property tax revenue increases of up to 8.35% for ten years; and Whereas Ontarians already pay the highest property taxes in the country; and Whereas each municipal government in Ontario faces unique issues, the fiscal health and needs are a challenge which unites all municipal governments, regardless of size; Now Therefore Be It Resolved that Council for the Town of Parry Sound supports the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in its work to close the fiscal gap; so that all municipalities can benefit from predictable and sustainable revenue, to finance the pressing infrastructure and municipal service needs faced by all municipal governments.
It’s hard to argue with asking the Government for a hand out to support local expenses, but it needs to come from somewhere. Perhaps the sense is that if the Province is taking the money it’s less onerous than the money being taxed locally where there is greater accountability. I do argue with the statement that Ontario has the highest property taxes, it’s certainly not the case in Seguin. Carling and the Archipelago.

9.3.1 – Financial Variance Report for Q3 (September 30, 2016). Resolution. That Council hereby receives and accepts the Financial Report for Q3 2016 (September 30, 2016) attached as Schedule “A”; and Further that Council hereby approves the expenses for members of Council for the period July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016, attached as Schedule “B”.

9.4.1 – Belvedere Avenue design. Direction. That Council direct staff to survey residents who reside on the one-way section of Belvedere Avenue to determine numbers for and against a proposal to revert back to a two-way street; And further that staff review the present parking layout and current agreements with property owners to help identify ways to reduce on-street parking; And further that staff bring a recommendation to Council regarding the future of the directionally challenged Belvedere Avenue.
I’m not sure why this has come up. I have been up there more than often enough to realize that the current situation works reasonably well. One way streets always reduce the possibility for traffic surprises. It seems as though it may be a way to help reduce the Belvedere Heights parking lot debt by removing on-street parking and forcing visitors into the pay lot.

9.4.3 – Recreational Vehicle Dump Out Service. Resolution. That the recreational vehicle dump out service currently provided by staff at the Waste Water Treatment Plant be discontinued.
Let’s not sweat it, there are a number of local alternatives, and it is so rarely used that it represents a distraction. Not mentioned in the report are the local marinas who may be able to oblige. I wonder where the locations for pump outs are posted so it’s easy for visitors to find.

9.5.1 – Consent Application – B/25/2016 (PS) (Parry Sound Affordable Development Corporation). Resolution. That Consent Application No. B/25/2016(PS) – Parry Sound Affordable Development Corporation, be supported subject to conditions of consent which require: 1. cash-in-lieu of parkland dedication in the amount of $2,662.00; and 2. that the applicant be advised that at the time of development that the severed lot requires individual water and sewer service connections.
That figure of $2,662 seems to be a bargain.

9.5.2 – Parry Sound Affordable Housing Development Corporation request for Building Permit Fee Refund 82 Gibson. Direction. That staff write to Parry Sound Affordable Housing Development Corporation indicating that their request for a refund of a building permit fee is denied.
Costs need to be covered, I think the denial is appropriate. The town already is providing the group with significant financial support. The amount in question is $5,000.

9.6.1 – Tourism Summit Report. Resolution. That upon the recommendation of the Regional Economic Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), Council adopts the Tourism Summit report and; and that the budget request be considered through the 2017 Budget process. That upon the recommendation of the Regional Economic Development Advisory Committee (REDAC), Council approves the Tourism Steering Committee Terms of Reference.
The full report is contained in the council package, it’s worth reviewing. This was the report that basically found the area was failing in pretty much all areas when it came to tourism support. Something needs to be done, and Parry Sound needs to participate. The staffing issue stands out in my review. The plan includes a single contract position for a period of three-years, at a salary of about $40,000 per year. That is not much more than NOHFC interns are paid, and they are remarkably green. I suspect that the salary will not attract strong candidates, putting the whole investment at risk. And should a good candidate be found, it is likely that they will not stick around. A contract position at this wage level does not seem a way to build success. It’s hard to get a quality person to commit to a position that the organization itself is not committed to. Enough said.

By-laws

10.5.1 – Rezoning Application – 82 Gibson Street – Lifting of Holding Provision. Being a By-law to amend By-law No. 2004-4653 (The Zoning By-law) as amended to remove a holding provision (“h” symbol”) from 82 Gibson Street. The lifting of the Holding Provision is a consequence of the developers completing a site plan agreement, an off-site parking agreement, as well as a variety of reports including traffic, noise and vibration.

10.5.2 – Consent Agreement. Being a By-law to authorize a Consent Agreement for 1 Joseph Street and 100 Church Street – Microsuite Properties Ltd.
This is the former motel property across from the high school.

Note: Budget meetings are coming up. There are three public meetings scheduled over the next two months. The dates are: November 29th, December 13th and January 10th. The meetings start at 6:00 so bring some supper (Subway works well) and be prepared to listen closely. Past seating arrangements for budget discussions are such that it can be hard for people in the audience, the clients that is, to easily hear what is being said. I won’t say they mumble, but the discussion is more like a support group meeting than a public presentation. The budget discussions are not recorded and broadcast on Cogeco, so you need to be there to properly understand what is going on.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

The supporting budget documents will be made available online at the Town’s website, www.parrysound.ca, prior to the meeting. You may need to hunt to find the documents. They are not hidden, but the website’s hierarchy is not intuitive. What is not clear is how the Public is expected to provide comments on the budget to Council. The budget meetings are conducted under the same terms as regular council meetings, there is no opportunity for public comment or questions. That means it is a sit and listen only session. It is possible that Council may permit deputations prior to the start of the formal budget discussions as is the norm at council meetings. But if that were to be the case, and I expect it might, you need to have your questions and comments prepared before you hear the discussion. That means reading the budget documents before you attend the meetings. Or, you will need to provide your input to individual members of Council offline, or perhaps through a deputation at the following council meeting.

I will send a note to Council asking them how they would like the Public to provide their comments regarding the budget. It will be my suggestion that at the close of each budget meeting that Council hold an open meeting where the Public can ask questions and make comments. Unless of course they would prefer to receive calls and email at home or at work.

Easier to Read Than Tea Leaves?

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