This week’s meeting of Parry Sound Council is packed with a number of items. It’s a bit of a mix of operational and organizational issues. I have provided comment (italics) for several of the agenda items.
- b) personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees (Human Resources)
- c) a proposed or pending acquisition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (potential land acquisition) (Waterfront development)
Waterfront development continues to be on Council’s closed session agenda without any information being shared with the public.
- d) labour relations or employee negotiations (personnel matter)
4.2 – Ministry of Finance. Transitional mitigation payment to eligible municipalities re: tax exemption for Long Term Care Homes
5.1 – Chris McDonald & Erin Cardy. Splash Pad for Parry Sound
5.2 – Thomas Buttineau. Needles & Addictions, A Cry for Help
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – Tender – Bowes Street Retaining Wall. Resolution. That upon the recommendation of Triton Engineering Services Limited, Council accepts the tender from Weeks Construction Inc. in the amount of $218,067.40, including HST, for the construction of the northwest retaining wall on Bowes Street and Louisa Street, this tender being the lowest tender of three tenders received; and further, That Council increase the allotment in the Capital Replacement Reserve Fund to cover the shortfall of $58,067.40.
9.1.2 – Pre-budget approval – Vacuum Truck. Resolution. That Council authorize pre-budget approval in the amount of $350,000 to purchase a new vacuum truck and further; That Council approve single sourcing the equipment through an authorized Vactor dealer.
This apparently is in the budget as part of the long term equipment replacement program.
9.2.1 – Cultural Spaces Canada Grant Application – Stockey Centre Audio and Projection Systems. Resolution. That Council approves the request for funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, Cultural Spaces Canada, in the amount of $23,349 representing 50% of the total costs of audio and projection upgrades at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts.
9.3.1 – Henvey Inlet EMS Service. Direction (For Direct Staff Follow-up): That upon the recommendation of the EMS Advisory Committee staff prepare documentation to justify the application to the Ministry of Health for 100% funding of a base located in Henvey Inlet FN and that staff enter negotiations with MOH to implement and manage the Henvey Inlet base.
9.4.2 – Succession Planning. Resolution. That September 26, 2017 at 6:00 pm be scheduled as a Special Closed Council meeting for the purpose of succession planning.
I believe that the Town will be looking to fill the CAO position in the next couple of years. I hope that the new CAO, whether promoted from within or hired from the outside, will be a resident of Parry Sound, not living in one of the lower tax surrounding communities. I have no issue with Staff living outside of Parry Sound but I believe the CAO, who directs the activities of Staff, needs to experience life in Parry Sound, as a resident. It’s pretty easy to overlook, or not understand, any number of quality of life issues of local residents and businesses if you don’t live here. Yes, people might let you know about what is right and wrong about being a resident of Parry Sound, but there needs to be first hand experience. Just my two cents. It may be a little like the experience of our neighbours to the south who have a president who doesn’t really ‘get’ the issues because he prefers to retreat to his out of Washington residences, rather than sit in the White House and get first hand experience.
9.5.1 – 2016 Reserve and Reserve Fund Report. Resolution. That Council receives the 2016 Reserve and Reserve Fund Report, attached as Schedule A, in compliance with the Town’s Reserve and Reserve Fund Policy.
9.5.2 – Reserve Transfers – Downtown Business Association. Resolution. That Council hereby approves a transfer of up to $8,000, conditional on a minimum $2,000 contribution from the Downtown Business Association, from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve for the purpose of funding the costs of a strategic plan for the Downtown Business Association.
It’s my sense that Council and Staff aren’t happy with the performance of the Downtown Business Association. The Town wants something to happen but they don’t really want to invest their own time and effort. They had an active Downtown a couple of years ago, but some members of Council resented their activism. Oh dear, how to find the right balance?
9.5.3 – Reserve Transfers – Website. Resolution. That Council hereby approves a transfer of $4,800 from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve for the purpose of funding the implementation costs of the Form Builder module from e-Solutions.
This seems like a good investment.
9.5.4 – POA Write-offs. Resolution. That Council for the Town of Parry Sound, hereby approves the write-offs for the Provincial Offences Act Court outlined in Schedule “A” attached.
Another round of ten-plus year old write offs; the total amount is $5,300.
9.5.5 – 2018 Budget Schedule. Resolution. That Council hereby approves the 2018 budget preparation schedule as set out per “Schedule A” attached.
Ladies and gentlemen, open your spreadsheets. It would be nice if the schedule included a note of what steps were open to the Public and when Staff and Council would prefer to receive public comment. How about a date of when the first draft of the budget will be available to the Public and a deadline for Public input and comment? With council meetings being streamed online it is likely more people will participate in the process, possibly too late to provide meaningful input.
9.5.6 – Creation of Hotel Tax. Direction. That the Director of Finance be directed to create an ad-hoc committee including industry members, to further research, develop and design a hotel tax system for the Town of Parry Sound.
This fits in with 9.6.1, and is necessary if the Town is to provide residents, visitors and businesses with the level of amenities and services they expect. Improving the business climate in Parry Sound generates little incremental revenue, at best it stabilizes the tax base.
9.6.1 – Local Share – 1% Sales Tax Increase. Resolution. Whereas municipal operating costs Provincially are growing at $1 billion annually, just to maintain current services, and Whereas the total annual municipal budget gap as calculated by AMO is estimated to be $4.9 billion annually for the next 10 years to maintain current services levels and finance infrastructure needs, and Whereas property tax and user fees would have to increase at about 8% per year to close that gap, and Whereas municipalities own approximately two-thirds of all public infrastructure, all of which needs to be maintained, and Whereas AMO has reviewed dozens of options to help finance municipal governments, and Whereas the Town’s 2016 Asset Management Plan estimated a backlog of approximately $36 million and an annual infrastructure funding gap for tax-supported assets of $4,626,000. Whereas Council has agreed and implemented a 1.8% annual capital levy in addition to acceptable cost of living increases, Now therefore be it resolved that Council of the Town of Parry Sound supports AMO’s ‘Local Share’ initiative that would see a new proposed 1% (HST) sales tax increase, to support local infrastructure investment.
Yup, the money has to come from somewhere. If you don’t like the 1% sales tax feel free to offer the Town alternatives. This tax would in some small part capture a contribution from our neighbours and visitors who appreciate and make use of Parry Sound’s services and infrastructure. I’m okay with a splash park, but who should be responsible for the costs?
10.1.1 – Funding Agreement – Waubeek Street. Being a by-law to authorize the execution of a Clean Water and Wastewater Fund Transfer Payment Agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario as represented by the Minister of Infrastructure and The Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound.
This represents a $1.1 million provincial grant for the Waubeek Street reconstruction. The total project is estimated to cost $5.4 million.
10.2.1 – Site Plan Approval Application – The Parry Sound Affordable Housing. Development Corporation – 82 Gibson Street. Being a By-law to grant Site Plan Approval and authorize the execution and registration of a development agreement with 82 Gibson Street (The Parry Sound Affordable Housing Development Corporation).
I guess this will be approved as the developer has already started building the foundation.
10.2.2 – Site Plan Approval Application – 1793951 Ontario Inc. / Greystone Project. Being a By-law to grant Site Plan Approval and authorize the execution and registration of a development agreement with Granite Harbour/1793951 Ontario Inc./Greystone Project Management Inc. – 11c Salt Dock Road.
This represents the third phase of the project. After much concern about the lack of activity following the first phase of Granite Harbour, the development is moving forward nicely.
10.5.1 – Accounts Receivable Policy. Being a By-law to Establish an Accounts Receivable Collections Policy.
10.5.2 – Tax Collections Policy. Being a By-law to Establish a Tax Collections Policy.
10.5.3 – Asset Management Policy and Asset Management Strategy. Being a By-law to Establish an Asset Management Policy and Resolution, That Council hereby adopts the Asset Management Strategy, attached as Schedule A.
I’ll be there. If you can’t make it check out the live stream.
Life on the Big Sound (August 2017)