It is a very light agenda this week. I hope that it is because Staff is focused on the 2021 budget. There is one interesting item on the agenda, a Letter, that I offer some thoughts on.

4.7 – Lawrence & Sandra Mulligan. Concerns regarding assessment, property taxes and trespassing on property.
This concerns a property that most folks would think is in McDougall but actually has a Town of Parry Sound municipal address, and carries town tax rates. It is the new building that is reached by following Oakridge Road South onto a gravel road that was built by the Mulligans. The property carries an assessment of $1.6 million and an annual tax bill of $25,000 despite having no town services. I think that MPAC has screwed up on the assessment and unless the Town decides to push MPAC to correct the issue the owners will be out of pocket for more than $100,000 before the next reassessment window opens.
I was involved in a similar situation a few years ago when another property owner received a smaller but similarly shocking assessment and tax bill. The Town was not too quick to act until an embarrassing mistake on their part related to the property came to light. With the threat of public disclosure of the mistake the Town and MPAC worked ‘very quickly’ to revise the assessment and tax bill to an appropriate amount. The Town initially tried to pin the mistake on others but I suspect they realized that public disclosure would be sufficiently embarrassing to obscure any value in finger pointing.
The problem here is not the value of the home, or even the amount of land involved. It is a landlocked property that is crossed by the Voldemort Trail (more on this later). It enjoys a beautiful Georgian Bay overlook, but it does not own the waterfront. The waterfront is owned by the Town of Parry Sound and is part of the North Shore Rugged Trail. If you have walked along the North Shore Rugged Trail you will recognize this stretch as where the quarry used to be. I suspect that MPAC assigned the value of the waterfront access to it. An undeveloped property right beside it with twice the area, 84 acres versus 35 acres, and a similar Georgian Bay overlook, carries an assessed value of $600,000. It also has lakefront access, albeit Strain Lake. In theory then the Mulligan property should have a value half of that, let’s say $300,000. Add in a nice cottage/house that is valued at $500,000 for the building, and you have a total assessed value of $800,000 or so, half of the current assessment. That still means a $12,000 annual tax bill that has no services (garbage, roads, hydrants, …), but it is much more reasonable.
About the Voldemort Trail, the trail that shall not be mentioned. It is not part of the Town’s trail system and runs through private property behind the Smelter Wharf, including the Mulligan property. The Town seems to believe that they have no responsibility for people’s use of the trail, and it ‘shall not be mentioned’. My questions were largely ignored three years ago when I asked why this trail, which is a very popular with people walking their dogs, wasn’t part of the official Trails Master Plan. Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell seems to have been the attitude.
The Voldemort Trail is a problem for the Town because of its popularity and high use. I suspect that the Town would like to provide formal access to it because of its popularity but it would need to buy land and then assume liability for claims arising from its use. I also suspect the people who own the land would like to swap trail land for certain Georgian Bay waterfront rights that are currently part of the North Shore Rugged Trail. A general agreement was reached a few years ago between the landowners and the Town to start discussions on how to develop this private property. Land with waterfront is much more valuable to both the landowners (selling price) and the Town (higher assessed values for waterfront properties).
Let’s see what develops. Without a push the Town will sit on its thumb. All they need to do is wander down to the MPAC office in the town’s building and suggest the assessment be revisited.
(This is why it’s worth reading each and every council meeting agenda. There is stuff mentioned that only becomes relevant months or years later.)

Closed Session
c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board, (developer interest in municipal property purchase)

4.1 – Brenda Paul, Clerk, Township of Machar.

Concerns regarding permanent closure of Drive Test Centre in Sundridge.

4.2 – Don McArthur, Clerk, South River.
Concerns regarding permanent closure of Drive Test Centre in Sundridge.

4.3 – William Patterson, Director, Near North Crime Stoppers.
Request to proclaim January, 2021 as Crime Stoppers Month.

4.4 – Canadian Centre for Women s Empowerment.
Request to proclaim November 26, 2020 as Day of Recognition for Survivors of Financial Abuse and Economic Injustice

4.5 – Jason Predie, Parry Sound EMS.
Request for monetary donation towards 2020 Toy/Food Drive.

4.6 – Chris Pettinger, Co-Founder Trestle Brewing Company Limited.
Request for Town support permitting patio extensions beyond January 1, 2021.

4.7 – Lawrence & Sandra Mulligan.
Concerns regarding assessment, property taxes and trespassing on property.

5.1 – Nick Ryeland, Peter Searle, Executive Director, Park to Park Trail Association.

Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways.

That Council of the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound receive the attached report on Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways for information purposes.

9.2.1 – Consent Application B/37/20 (PS) – (Kingshott/Crookshank-Hurd).
That B37/2020 (88 and 94 Louisa Street) – Kingshott/Crookshank-Hurd, be supported subject to:
1. The payment of cash-in-lieu of parkland for the two newly created lots;
2. That the severance lot lines be reconfigured to ensure that the entirety of the ROW is on the Retained parcels;
3. That the existing 51(26) agreement apply to the newly severed lots as well as the retained lots;
4. That the lands be rezoned to ensure compliance with  theZoning By-law; and
5. That a scoped report be required to ensure the proposal complies with Section 4.5 of the Town’s Official Plan.

9.5.1 – Canadian Centre For Women’s Empowerment request for proclamation.
Whereas economic abuse is a deliberate pattern of control in which individuals interfere with their partner’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources; and
Whereas a lack of access to economic resources undermines a woman’s independence and agency, such as limiting her access to social support services, undermining mental well-being and exacerbating other risk factors contributing to poverty and other forms of marginalization affecting women; and
Whereas each day in Canada, approximately 51% of women staying in shelters for women and children report experiencing financial abuse, economic abuse is a seldom- talked about yet prevalent issue faced by survivors of domestic violence in Canada; and
Whereas economic abuse has happened to many generations of Canadian women and continues to happen regardless of socio-economic status, race, age or other identity factors; and
Whereas it is of utmost importance that government, at all levels, take action to protect victims and support survivors of economic abuse;
Now Therefore Council of the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound does hereby authorize the Mayor to proclaim November 26, 2020 as “The Day of Recognition for Survivors of Financial Abuse and Economic Injustice” in the Town of Parry Sound.

9.5.2 – Proclamation of January, 2021 as Crime Stoppers Month.
Whereas Crime Stoppers, an internationally recognized program, is a partnership of the public, the police and the media providing citizens with a proactive program to anonymously assist our police partners in the solving of crime, contributing to an improved quality of life in our communities and
Whereas since inception, anonymous calls to Near North CRIME STOPPERS have assisted the Police and other investigative agencies in making 1,715 arrests, recovering stolen property valued at over $4 million and seizing almost $52 million in illegal drugs;
Now Therefore Council of the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound hereby authorizes the Mayor to declare January 2021 as Crime Stoppers Month in the Town of Parry Sound.