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Reviewing the Town of Parry Sound Council Agenda and the attachments provides insights into the issues the Town faces and is wrestling with that don’t surface in most discussions or editorials. This week’s agenda is a reminder of a couple of these issues:

4.5, 10.1.2 – Intensification. The Town of Parry Sound occupies a unique position in the larger region with respect to real estate and services.

Properties represent an especially interesting dilemma. With two trans Canada train lines running through the Town with the accompanying noise and pollution, and no available waterfront property, there is little incentive for the construction of higher end residential properties in Parry Sound. If you want peace and quiet, albeit with a bit of travel for services (and limited high-speed internet) you build your dream home in one of the neighbouring municipalities. As a bonus you pay about half the property taxes that you would in Parry Sound. That leaves Parry Sound property best suited for lower cost, and higher density, development, including subsidized housing. Since there is such a shortage of lower cost rental properties in the area, renters really can’t quibble about the trains. This is neither good nor bad, it reflects market realities. There is little possibility that Parry Sound will ever be subject to gentrification. It’s all about the trains, an issue that no one wants to acknowledge and address. (Yes, there is little that can be done, but sometimes acknowledging a reality can lead to creative solutions.) The issue is that Parry Sound is undergoing the opposite of gentrification, and that’s probably not ideal, certainly not balanced. There are too many landlords, and would be landlords, in Parry Sound who want to cram as many people as possible in the smallest space possible with the lowest construction costs possible. There is nothing wrong with this approach, it makes the best possible use of the available land. This may explain in part why Parry Sound isn’t as pretty as Port Carling or Bracebridge or Huntsville. Why spend money on aesthetics if it’s a rental property? An architect with an inspired design, and a few more windows, only cost more and likely will have higher operating costs. Many of the stately older homes in Town have been renovated to permit multiple apartments, and it’s likely that more and more will be converted. Why would an individual spend the money to buy and update an older home when they can get more for less in one of the neighbouring municipalities?

Both 4.5 (subsidized housing) and 10.1.2 (triplet to quadplex) represent another step in this direction. Like putting on a few pounds, it’s best to acknowledge the change rather than ignore it or pretend our underwear has shrunk. Perhaps adding on a few more pounds is exactly what we wanted, or perhaps not.

9.3.1– Expenses: The most interesting part of this short item is the decision by Council to refinance the Smelter Wharf loan rather than pay it off as planned. I wonder what the thinking was on this? Also notable is the uncollectable amounts related to tax appeals. It seems that the Big Box stores continue to appeal for lower assessments, and the town doesn’t expect to win. From the agenda package (bold highlights are my addition):
“Total tax levy surplus in 2017 amounted $197,319, mainly due to the refinancing of the Smelter Wharf loan ($324k) which was budgeted to be paid off, and a one-time grant from the Province to compensate for the loss of tax revenue on the Lakeland Long-Term Care facility ($173k), offset by higher allowance for anticipated uncollectable tax amounts for the properties under appeals (-$240k)and winter control expenses (-$83k). During the year, staff adjusted the timing of some approved expenditures based on operational needs and resource availability. As a result, some expenditures that would be funded by reserves or reserve funds have been delayed into 2018. The delay will have no impact on the 2018 levy.”

Closed Session

(c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board; (Agreement of Purchase and Sale)

Correspondence

4.1 – Parry Sound Active Transportation Committee. Writing with concerns about the safety of St. Charles crossing on Isabella St for pedestrians and cyclists.

4.3 Parry Sound Anglers and Hunters Sportsman’s Gun Show, August 25th, 2018. Concerning denial of their request for a sandwich board sign near McDonald’s for their gun show which will be held in MacTier this year due to their temporary relocation due to scheduled renovations at BOCC.

4.5 – Parry Sound Affordable Housing Development Corporation. Requesting support in principle in the development of an affordable housing initiative on Waubeek Street in partnership with Parry Sound DSSAB.

Resolutions and Direction to Staff

9.1.1 – Application for Council Approved Sign – 21 William Street. Resolution. That pursuant to section 3.(4) of the Sign By-law, the Chief Building Official is authorized to issue a permit for a ground sign in front of 21 William Street pursuant to the following conditions and variances:
a) The appearance and size of the sign shall be substantially according to the application,
b) The setback for the sign may be as little as 1.0m from the back of the sidewalk, and
c) All other regulations in the sign by-law continue to apply except for those revised by this resolution.

9.3.1 – 2017 Year End Transfers. Resolution. That Council approves the transfers to and from Reserves as summarized in Schedule A attached; That Council approves the transfers to and from Reserve Funds as summarized in Schedule B attached; And That 2017 capital projects which were previously budgeted to be funded from reserves or reserve funds may be completed in 2018.

9.3.2 – 2017 Audited Financial Statements. Resolution. That Council for the Town of Parry Sound does hereby approve the Draft Consolidated Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2017 as attached in Schedule A.

9.5.1 – Sandwich Board signs for events outside of Parry Sound borders. Direction. That staff be directed to explore the option of delegating approval and terms/conditions for the placement of signs on town property to advertise events outside of the boundaries of the Town of Parry Sound to the CAO.

By-laws

10.1.1 – Declaration of Surplus Lands. By-law 2018 – 6856. Being a By-law to declare Lot 1 of Plan 63 in the Town of Parry Sound surplus to the Town of Parry Sound.

10.1.2 – Rezoning Application – Z/18/5 – 24 Albert Street (Jackson on behalf of Moore). By-law 2018 – 6857. Being a By-law to amend By-law 2004-4653 (The Zoning By-law), as amended, for 24 Albert Street (Jackson on Behalf of Moore).

10.1.3 – Big Sound Marina Agreement One Year Extension with Massasauga Management Co. By-law 2018 – 6858. Being a bylaw to amend By-law No: 2014-6428, the operating agreement between Massasauga Management Co. Inc. and the Town of Parry Sound for operation of Big Sound Marina and the Town Dock, and supersede amending By-law No: 2017-6704 conditional on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada approving the operating agreement and the extension of a head lease between the Town and Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the completion of the divestiture process.

10.4.1 – Establish Bobby Orr Hall of Fame (BOHF) Scholarship Reserve Fund. By-law 2018 – 6859. Being a By-law to provide for the establishment of a reserve fund to be known as the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame Scholarship Reserve Fund.