This week’s meeting of Council is light on ‘meaty’ issues, but sets the path for some important future initiatives. I have listed a few of the more interesting items in the sections below, with comments as appropriate.
But first, a few comments on this past week’s Special Meeting of Council to Review Strategic Priorities. From my perspective, it seemed much like a made for show production. The meeting lasted about 35 minutes and was for the most part very formalized. This followed a 60 minute closed session where I imagine all of the relevant discussion was held and general agreements were reached. The ‘Dotmocracy’ process was conducted with little surprise, and even less prioritization. A suggestion to the organizers, if there are five topics for review, provide the users with only three green stickers. That will help folks to make some decisions in terms of what really is a priority. It has been noted that the enemy of the best is the good. Obviously, none of the projects, which included last year’s priorities and this year’s new ones, were likely to be outright rejected, especially if there was previous discussion in Closed Session. So which of the 5 strategic priorities were both important and urgent? I couldn’t tell from the voting or the discussion. One of the best ways to find yourself in debt is to decide that a new car, a new snow machine, braces for the nine-year old, and a nice winter vacation are all 6 Green priority items. Sometimes you need to decide what is really, really the most important, and most urgent.
Here are the Dotmocracy results from Tuesday night:
Great North Road Infrastructure – 6 Green
Parry Sound Road Extension – 6 Green
Closed Item A – 6 Green
Innovation Park – 4 Green, 2 Yellow
Tourism – 3 Green, 3 Yellow
So what is Closed Item A? It seems to be something new, and an initiative that requires Town infrastructure investment. I have an idea of what it might be, but I may be totally wrong. What do others think it might be? Here are some clues:
- It ranked among the top of strategic priorities. So it is ‘important’, at least for now.
- It’s something new, or at least something that has once again become a priority.
- It’s unlikely to be the casino project. That would largely be addressed with the Great North and Parry Sound Road priorities.
- The Town recently spent about $1 million on the boathouse properties on the waterfront.
- The Town also spent about a quarter million dollars on property across Oastler Park Drive from the Canadian Tire.
- The Town last year entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding access and future servicing with the folks at Beatty Big Sound Property. This relates to the property north of the Smelter Wharf.
If you have any ideas you can provide a comment to this blog post or, if you prefer privacy, send me an email at email@example.com. I will share your thoughts but keep your name confidential. Let’s use the “wisdom of the crowd” to see if we can figure this one out.
If you want to skip forward to the more interesting agenda items here is what I suggest: 8.1, 9.2.1, 9.2.2, 9.6.1 and 9.6.2.
b) personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees (Licensing Appeal, Appointment)
c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board; (Request to Transfer Lease)
d) labour relations or employee negotiations. (Performance Review, Director of Emergency and Protective Services)
4.1 – Debbie White, Co-founder World Oceans Day. Raising awareness of World Oceans Day June 8, 2017 asking Parry Sound to recognize and support the need to protect our water, waterways and oceans for the life they give us and offering ways to educate the public on ways to protect our waters.
4.2a&b – Cheryl Gallant, MP Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. Removal of the tax-exempt portion of remuneration paid to local officials and the Municipality of East Ferris’ resolution. East Ferris Resolution in support of Ms. Gallant.
See 8.1 below for comments.
4.3a&b – Marlene Bisson. Questions about the Service Line warranty program, water and wastewater and tax concerns with responses from J. Boggs & T. Pinn
4.4 – Parry Sound Friendship Centre. Invitation to Mayor & Council to attend their 50th Anniversary celebration June 17th.
5.1 – Vanessa Backman, Parry Sound Tourism. Providing an update on Parry Sound Tourism for 2017
5.2 – Margaret Walton. Regarding Habitat for Humanity.
8.1 – Removal of the tax-exempt portion of remuneration paid to local officials. Resolution. That Council for the Town of Parry Sound supports the letter from Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew, Nipissing, Pembroke and the resolution from East Ferris, attached as Schedules “A” and “B” which are against the removal of the tax- exempt portion of remuneration paid to local officials as stipulated in the 2017 Federal Budget; And further that copies of this resolution be forwarded to Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, Local MP Tony Clement, Local MPP Norm Miller and the West Parry Sound Area municipalities.
This tax-exempt issue concerns the current situation that about 1/3 of the remuneration received by members of Council is not subject to tax. This is intended to compensate these individuals for their out-of-pocket expenses related to discharging their duties as a Councillor or Mayor. Since most councillors serve in addition to their regular jobs, the tax on this 1/3 of their council remuneration would be rather significant. I believe that members of Council currently are reimbursed for any significant travel expenses, and in some cases receive honoraria for serving on certain boards, so it may be time for this little perk to disappear. If they want to avoid the additional tax burden they should just tuck this amount into their RRSP.
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.2.1 – Revised Organization Chart for Development and Leisure Services Resolution. That Council approve the revised Organization Chart for the Department of Development and Leisure Services, per Schedule “A” attached; and That Resolution No: 2013-207 be rescinded.
The actual change here is a matter of tidying up the organogram for Development and Leisure Services. But the organogram is interesting, especially the large number of staff, full and part-time associated with the Stockey Centre. That certainly helps explain why the Town wants to keep it non-union. Click on the image below to see the ‘big picture’.
9.2.2 – 2017 Municipal Assistance Program. Resolution. That Council approve the 2017 Municipal Assistance Program allocations per Schedule “A” attached.
The numbers will be decided in closed session and announced in open session.
9.4.1 – Booth Street Park Water. Resolution. That a water service be installed to the Booth St. Community Park to be funded from the Parks Reserve.
9.6.1 – Train Whistle Cessation. Direction. That the Director of Public Works be directed to bring forward a report and recommendation for the July 4, 2017 Council meeting regarding train whistle cessation.
This is an interesting new initiative. Can they perhaps also look into having the railways better service their ‘greasers’ to reduce the amount of squealing as the trains round corners? We have a few curves in Parry Sound if you haven’t noticed.
9.6.2 – Potential Hotel Tax. Direction. That the Director of Finance be directed to bring forward to the September 5, 2017 Council meeting, pending release of regulations, a report and recommendation regarding a potential hotel tax.
Another interesting initiative. The Town almost totally depends on property taxation for revenue. If more tourists come to Parry Sound and spend more money it doesn’t translate into more revenue for the Town. That may explain why the Town has invested little in the Downtown with the exception of free parking. The bulk of new revenue will come from new construction like the Breakers project at the Smelter Wharf. Adding a hotel or hospitality tax would deliver a new and additional source of revenue. Better to get it in place now before any additional investment is made in capacity. Eventually a restaurant tax?
10.2.1 – Bobby Orr Community Centre: Pro Shop Lease Agreement. By-law 2017-6743. Being a by-law to authorize the Mayor and Deputy Clerk/CAO to execute an agreement with 4 Sports Inc., for the purpose of Pro-Shop operation at the Bobby Orr Community Centre for a one (1) year period.
10.3.1 – On Call Municipal Law Enforcement Officer. By-law 2017-6744. Being a By-law to authorize the Mayor and Deputy Clerk/CAO to execute a service contract with Cameron Marshall for the provision of On Call Municipal Law Enforcement Services.
10.3.2 – Appointment Bylaw – Chris Everitt, Earl Smallwood, Tom Evans, Cameron Marshall, Municipal Law Enforcement Officers. By-law 2017-6745. Being a bylaw to appoint Chris Everitt, Earl Smallwood, Tom Evans, Cameron Marshall as Municipal Law Enforcement Officers.
10.5.1 – Business Improvement (BIA) Levy by-law – Downtown business area. By-law 2017-6736. Being a bylaw to Adopt the Estimates of the Board of Management of the Downtown Parry Sound Business Improvement Area and to Strike the Tax Rate Thereon for the Year 2017.
Columbine on the North Shore Rugged Trail (May 2017)