2016 Sunshine List Mashup

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Or, fun with figures.

I wasn’t going to post about the recently released 2016 Sunshine list, but I was ‘egged’ into it. I really don’t have a problem with what people are paid as long as they are doing their job and they are earning what they are paid. Given my regular interaction with the senior staff in Parry Sound I won’t complain. They seem to be ‘earning their pay’.

More interesting I thought was to look at how the 2016 Sunshine List looks across the West Parry Sound District, and what it reflects. Mashing together the 2016 Sunshine List and the recent 2016 Census figures provided for some interesting insights. Here are the figures, with some explanation. (Apologies to Whitestone for being excluded.)

(Click on any of the tables for a larger view.)

The table above summarizes the combined salaries and benefit figures reported for the area municipalities. Each of the municipalities uses slightly different titles for the various senior management positions so I have associated them to the best of my abilities. In the case of the Archipelago and Parry Sound there are a couple of positions that don’t fit the standard categories, these are Corporate Services and Emergency and Protective Services respectively.

This next table relates the cost for each position as a function of fulltime residences. It reveals a number of significant discrepancies in terms of the cost of all Sunshine List senior staff for municipalities, from a low of $47 per person, to a high of $1,167. But this is really not a fair comparison as some of the municipalities have far more seasonal than fulltime residents. Unfortunately, the census data doesn’t provide information on seasonal resident numbers. So let’s look at the same Salaries & Benefits figures as a function of the total Private Dwellings in each municipality. This includes both fulltime and seasonal properties.

This figure is closer to a reasonable estimate of Sunshine List ‘efficiency’, but it does not include the impact of businesses. If the number of business properties were to be included I suspect that Parry Sound would show a much more favourable ‘efficiency factor’.

So there are the 2016 Sunshine List figures with a little bit of analysis. A set of figures from the 2016 Census report that a I found interesting relates to municipality fulltime population and the number of private  dwellings (below). The numbers range from a high of 5.1 dwellings per person (Archipelago), to a low of 0.5 dwellings per person in Parry Sound. The difference obviously is the large number of seasonal residences in the Archipelago, Carling and McKellar. Those simple figures tell you everything you need to know about why amalgamation will not be something the municipalities spontaneously decide to do. It’s possible to imagine a Parry Sound and McDougall amalgamation, and perhaps an Archipelago and Carling amalgamation if they wanted to get better efficiency. The ‘business models’ are reasonably aligned. But don’t even think about it, much less talk about it. It’s a bit like integration in the U.S. South in the 60s. It took Federal legislation to make that happen. In the case of West Parry Sound it will take Provincial legislation. With Bay Street just a short walk away from the Provincial Legislature it’s – not – going – to – happen. Ever!

Notes:

  1. The 2016 Sunshine list is a bit of a bear to work with. I didn’t come across a simple PDF version as in earlier years. It’s available as a variety of data dumps. The easiest in my opinion was the CSV format file that can be searched with Excel.
  2. The municipalities that have only a single person hitting the Sunshine List may well have personnel just under the $100,000 cutoff, who would not be included in this report.
  3. It’s interesting to see how many police officers are on the Sunshine List. In the end, I think our neighbouring municipalities took the prudent course of action by biting the bullet and continuing on with OPP service.

 

Repatriating OPA Responsibilities

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One of the 2017 Town of Parry Sound Staff objectives is to ‘repatriate’ the responsibility for approving Official Plan amendments (OPA). I realize that I am using the term ‘repatriate’ incorrectly, but it makes a complex process a little easier to understand. This post summarizes the issue. It’s an interesting subject that provides some insight into how policy is created and approved.

Background

The Town of Parry Sound wants to gain the right to unilaterally approve amendments to its Official Plan. The Official Plan is a document that summarizes the Town’s plans and intentions with respect to development. Here’s a link to Parry Sound’s Official Plan. Presented below is the statement of Purpose from the Town’s Official Plan.

“The purpose of this Official Plan is to provide a planning framework to manage land use changes and to guide the physical development of the Town, while having regard to relevant social, economic, environmental and public health matters.

The Plan will:

 a) adopt growth management policies to guide development over the next twenty years;
b) direct the actions of Council, the Planning Board, agencies and the public on development applications;
c) recognize the financial capability of the Town to accommodate development and provide an appropriate level of municipal services;
d) ensure that development occurs in a manner that will minimize public health and safety issues, including the protection of human life and property from water related hazards such as flooding and erosion;
e) identify significant natural features and provide for their protection and conservation.”

It’s this document that, among other things, defines whether a new business can open in a certain part of Parry Sound, or if a bank can move from one location to another. Just because the Official Plan says it can, or can’t, doesn’t mean that it can, or can’t. In cases where the Official Plan allows, or at least doesn’t restrict, a new business to open, or another to move, then it probably will be approved to do so by the Town, if the application conforms with all other necessary requirements.

In cases where an application for a new business, or a move, or anything else doesn’t conform with the Official Plan, Council can, if they agree with the application, amend the Official Plan. This is referred to as an Official Plan Amendment (OPA). But that’s not the end of it. Because the OPA doesn’t conform with the Official Plan, the Town of Parry Sound must submit the proposed amendment to the Province of Ontario for approval. This typically takes a couple of months but can extend to 270 days. In most cases the Province approves an amendment, but when it doesn’t, the application underlying the amendment is denied, at least based on the application as it was initially framed.

Item 9.2.1 on the April 4, 2017 agenda is intended to confirm that the Town of Parry Sound wishes to apply to the Province for the right to approve its own OPAs, ‘repatriating’ that right from the Province. With that confirmation, Town Staff will make the necessary application with the Province to take control of OPAs. Provincial review will likely take several months, at most a couple of years. The Province can approve or reject this request. In the interim, Official Plan Amendments will continue to be reviewed by the Province. Item 9.2.1 also requests that the Town confirm that it no longer wishes to participate in the Parry Sound Area Planning Board (see below).

Allowing a municipality to approve their own Official Plan Amendments is not unusual. It is however, unusual in Northern Ontario, except for the larger municipalities such as North Bay and Sudbury. Seguin is one of the few smaller Northern Ontario municipalities who currently have the right to approve their own Official Plan Amendments.

Complications

I have only recently come to realize that there is a Parry Sound Area Planning Board (PSAPB) with responsibility for the Town of Parry Sound, McDougall, Carling, McKellar and Whitestone. It seems the PSAPB intends to request the right to approve Official Plan Amendments for their member municipalities. The board seems to feel that the Province would look more favourably on this request, rather than one where each municipality is delegated the right to approve OPAs for their own municipality. This means a Town of Parry Sound OPA would be reviewed, and approved or refused, by the PSAPB, rather than the Province. Given that this board is comprised of local elected politicians with limited resources and planning experience, asking this group to make informed decisions would probably not be in the best interests of Parry Sound. This also seems to be the opinion of Town of Parry Sound Staff.

Options

It seems there are three possible options for the future handling of Town of Parry Sound OPAs, all of which are under active consideration.

  1. Continue to have the Province review and, as appropriate, approve or reject OPAs.
  2. Delegate Official Plan Amendment review and approval to the Parry Sound Area Planning Board.
  3. Have Parry Sound OPAs reviewed and approved by Town of Parry Sound Council (‘repatriation’).

Reflections

My first reaction was to oppose this ‘repatriation’ of OPA rights by Parry Sound. My feeling was that the Province plays an important role with respect to ensuring that the intent of the Official Plan is being respected. It’s too easy for a council to forgo the intent of the Official Plan in hopes of generating additional economic development. Having an impartial, experienced set of eyes reviewing and approving the OPA seems important. Having the Province involved removes the burden from residents and businesses of having to look too closely at exactly what OPAs the town is approving, and the implications.

But, there is a but, things need to move forward in a timely fashion and not be hung up according to the schedule of the Province. A couple months here, a few months there, and suddenly momentum is lost, especially in this part of the world where construction is often seasonally restricted. A delay in filing an application with the Town, followed by the necessary community review, staff report and council deliberation, and then a couple of months or more for provincial review, followed by the onset of winter, can mean a project starts a year later than planned.

Even if the Town of Parry Sound gains the right to approve their own Official Plan Amendments, there is still the opportunity for public input before the issue is approved by Council, and if necessary after approval, through appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). As I am discovering, this is a bit of nuclear option. While victory can be achieved, whatever that means, there is a high cost to all parties involved, winners and losers, in terms of expense, effort and time. It is not an option to be taken lightly. It also works best when all parties have access to the nuclear option, the right file an OMB appeal, or appeal an appeal. A business or resident, deciding to file an appeal, or a council deciding to approve a controversial OPA that might trigger an appeal, will need to carefully consider their options. It’s not quite assured mutual destruction, but it is costly in many ways. The key, in my opinion, is that all parties need to understand the appeal process and demonstrate that they are prepared to use it to ensure things are done in the best interests of the Town, its businesses, and its residents.

Conclusion

In the end, my preference is that the Town of Parry Sound gain the right to approve their own Official Plan Amendments. This would mean a by-law and the corresponding OPA could be approved at the same time. Decisions are made quickly, and appeals can be filed against both the by-law and OPA at the same time, if appropriate.

The second choice would be Parry Sound Area Planning Board approval of Town of Parry Sound Official Plan Amendments. That would add in a little delay to the process, perhaps a month or so, but much less than Provincial review. I wonder if the PSAPB would be responsible for defending their OPA decisions if appealed.

Of course, there is always the default situation where the Province continues to review Town of Parry Sound OPAs. That would not be ideal, but it is a known process.

What Will Happen?

Thinking about it a little bit more, my sense is that the Province will probably prefer to have an area planning board, in this case the Parry Sound Area Planning Board, assume responsibilities for approving Official Plan Amendments. It would mean the Province would only need to deal with a single body’s application for OPA approval privileges, the PSAPB in this case, rather than a number of separate applications, if Parry Sound goes ahead and withdraws from the PSAPB.

This explains the urgency of this week’s Item 9.2.1 and the decision before Council to leave the PSAPB. I think the Town realizes that if the Province is given the option to delegate OPA approvals to a single municipality or an area board, they will choose the latter.

So what will happen? The Town will surely withdraw from the Parry Sound Area Planning Board. That means the PSAPB won’t be able to include the Town in their application to ‘repatriate’ the responsibility to approve OPAs.

I expect that the Province will eventually approve the Town of Parry Sound’s application to ‘repatriate’ OPA rights, but it will take a year or so. It’s consistent with the Province’s strategy of downloading costs and responsibilities to the municipalities. That is unless the Province agrees to approve the Town’s request only if the Town joins with other area municipalities to have Official Plan Amendments reviewed by an area board.

This is ‘real world’ reality programming. And like TV it can take a season or more to come to any type of conclusion. Stay tuned.

It’s Not Magic, but It Can be Deceiving.

Council Agenda Preview – April 4, 2017

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There are some interesting items on the agenda this week, at least from my perspective. The first issue concerns the ‘repatriation’ of Official Plan Amendment responsibilities to Parry Sound Town Council (9.2.1). I have been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and will offer my thoughts in a separate post this weekend. It deserves a little more discussion than a single paragraph. It’s nuanced. The other item of interest is the only by-law on the agenda, a lowering of speed limits from 50 kph to 40 kph on selected streets in Parry Sound (10.1.1). That’s likely to annoy some people, please others, and result in speeding tickets if it is enforced.

On a humorous note (ha, ha), I see that once again the powers that be have decided to dock Anne the ‘e’ off the end of her name in the agenda, and of course they usually insist on adding it to the end of my name, Joe not Jo. Actually my full name is Josef, but I prefer it shortened to Jo rather than Joe (yes, there’s a story, and some logic). But of course when living south of the border my name was sometimes shortened from Josef, to Jose. That always led to interesting calls with telemarketers.

Closed Session

  1. c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (Lease Agreement)

Deputations

5.1 – Ann Bossart, Parry Sound resident. Annual Update of progress at Tower Hill Heritage Garden

5.2 – Brad Weiler, Community Recreation Programs Coordinator. Community Recreation Programming – Update

Resolutions and Direction to Staff

9.1.1 – Tender – 3.5 Ton Mini Excavator. Resolution. That Council accept the tender from Bobcat of Parry Sound Limited for one new model 2017 Bobcat E35i 3.5 ton mini excavator in the amount of $58,755.74, including taxes and delivery, this tender being the lowest tender of nine tenders received.

9.2.1 – Official Plan Amendment – Delegation Request. Resolution. That Council confirm Resolution 2016-077, being the recommendation of the Business Stimulus Team to obtain Official Plan Amendment approval delegation and the withdrawal from the Parry Sound Area Planning Board.

9.2.2 – Minor amendment to the Purchase and Sale Agreement for the disposal of Town Lands. Resolution. That Council waive the Option to Repurchase, as noted in Schedule “B” to By-law 2014-6476, for a property known as Part of Water Lot D or Parcel D, Registered Plan 11, Geographic Township of McDougall, now in the Town of Parry Sound, being Part 1, Plan 42R-20257, part of PIN 52109-0182(LT).
It’s always tricky when it comes to agreements involving members of Council, even if they are not present for the discussion and decision. 

9.5.1 – Use of Reserves to replace Mail Machine. Resolution. That Council approve the use of $11,200 from the Equipment Replacement Reserve for the purchase of replacement postage machine.

9.5.2 – Use of Equipment Reserve for Parks Trailer. Resolution. That Council approves the use of $10,200 from the Equipment Replacement Reserve (20 year rolling stock plan) to be used to purchase a new Parks Department trailer, one previously scheduled to be replaced in 2022.

By-laws

10.1.1 – Traffic By-law Amendment – Speed Limit Reduction. By-law 2017 – 6727. Being a by-law to amend Schedule “L”, Rate of Speed, of By-law 2007-5095, a by-law to regulate and control traffic within the municipality, to reduce the maximum permissible rate of speed to 40 kph from 50 kph on various streets located in the Town of Parry Sound.

That’s pretty much it, see the full agenda on the Town’s website for the full agenda and attachments. See you Tuesday night.

Jewel of the 30,000 Islands? Close Enough!

Parry Sound 2016 Annual Report

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The Parry Sound 2016 Annual Report came out yesterday, or at least it was in my mail yesterday. It’s an interesting read and does a good job of summarizing what was accomplished and where the money was spent.

It’s nice to think that as a town we really don’t need any improvements or investments, and that taxes should be frozen, or even reduced. Like any living organism, or organization, growth and renewal require ongoing investment. While you may be perfectly happy with that new kitchen you installed in the 70s, residents and businesses do expect services and facilities to be maintained and refurbished as necessary.

The reality is that as a community we provide, and pay for, services and infrastructure that are a necessity for our low tax neighbours. Our neighbours seem to have problems rationalizing an investment in the high speed internet they insist is critical for their future. But when your neighbour provides most essential services why not look to the Province and Canada to provide for things that Parry Sound doesn’t?

I realize that people are frustrated by the municipal tax load carried by Town of Parry Sound residents and businesses. After attending some five years of council meetings and budget discussions I am unable to accuse Council and Staff of making unwise investments. There are any number of expenditures that I disagree with, but these are nickel and dime items in terms of the whole budget. Even if you consider all of the nickel and dime issues they don’t add up to a loonie. My sense is that if you want Parry Sound services and low taxes, move to McDougall or Seguin. Consider Carling and McKellar if you don’t mind the longer drive to Parry Sound. You will be coming here for one thing or another, pretty much every day.

Council Agenda Preview – March 21, 2017

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There appears to be very little of material importance on this week’s agenda. There is a letter requesting future zoning by-law amendments to permit chickens (4.5). There are a couple of capital related items on the agenda, one that was in the approved 2017 Budget (9.5.3) and one that wasn’t (9.5.2 – materials for repairs to the Town docks off of McIssac way for transient boater use).

Thinking about attending this week’s meeting of Council? It’s a good idea. I’m pasting below today’s comments from Seth Godin that seem relevant. (Note: I recommend Seth’s Blog, it’s short and arrives daily, as a wonderful source of insight and reflection.)

Showing up
Some people show up when they need something.

Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later, when they need something.

And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.

Closed Session

c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (Development Potential)

Correspondence

4.1 – Honourable Dipika Damerla. Minister of Seniors Affairs. Re: 2017 Senior of the Year Award

4.2 – Zack Crafts and Nicole Collins, Treetops Community Forest Re: Thank you card for the Town’s assistance and financial support for the Treetops Community Forest project.

4.5 – Wave Weir, McKellar Township. Re: Requesting future amendment to the Zoning By-law include allowing Parry Sound residents to have backyard hens.

4.6 – Petition – Signed by 22 residents of Macklaim Drive and provided by Bill Heitman Re: Requesting “that Parry Sound take the necessary steps to have the speed limit of Macklaim Drive and Dennis Drive reduced to 40 km/hr for the safety of the walkers both young and young at heart”.

Consent Agenda

8.3 – Support for Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport Application for RED Funding. Resolution. Whereas on the 21st day of August, 2000 the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound and the Township of Seguin entered into an Agreement for the operation, control and management of the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport; and Whereas, as per Paragraph 13. of the said Agreement, The Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound and The Corporation of the Township of Seguin hold title to the Airport lands; and Whereas, the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport Commission has prepared an application to the Rural Economic Development (RED) Program for funding for the Airport Economic/Strategic Plan and related studies; and Whereas the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport Commission passed Resolution 2017- 28, attached as Schedule “A”, requesting the Township of Seguin to act as the lead applicant for the RED program funding; and Whereas the Township of Seguin passed Resolution 2017 – 097, attached as Schedule “B”, approving the Township of Seguin to act as the Contract Agent on behalf of the Commission and its member municipalities to the conclusion of the referenced Project; And Further that in the event there are cost overruns for this project, the Township of Seguin will provide financial assistance to the Parry Sound Area Municipal Airport Commission as required; Now, Therefore Be It Resolved that Council for the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound is in full support of the application for RED funding and the management of it’s application by the Township of Seguin.

Resolutions and Direction to Staff

9.1 – Sign Variance – 48 Bowes. Resolution. That the Chief Building Official is authorized and directed to issue a permit for the sign at 48 Bowes Street according to Schedule “A” attached.

9.3.1 – Blue Sky Net – Support for Innovate to Connect Project. Resolution. Whereas access to affordable and reliable broadband networks is an important part of everyday life and; Whereas communities outside urban centres face challenges in accessing internet service levels comparable to those in cities due to factors such as remote location and challenging terrain and; Whereas access to Broadband is key to economic, education, social and health development and; Whereas much of the West Parry Sound Area currently has little or less than 5mbps broadband coverage; Therefore, Be It Resolved That Council for the Town of Parry Sound supports Blue Sky Net’s application for funding under the (Innovation, Science and Economic Development) program, Connect to Innovate (CTI).

9.3.2 – WPS Smart – Support for Innovate to Connect Project. Resolution. That Council of the Town of Parry Sound does hereby support the West Parry Sound SMART Community Network Inc., in their application for Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate Program.

9.3.3 – Lakeland Networks – Support for Innovate to Connect Project. Resolution. That Council of the Town of Parry Sound does hereby support Lakeland Networks in their application for Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate Program and authorizes the Mayor to sign the letter, attached as Schedule “A”, in support of this application.

9.4.1 – 2016 Statement of Remuneration Paid to Council and Appointed Board Members. Resolution. That the 2016 Statement of Remuneration Paid to Council and Appointed Board Members, attached as Schedule “A”, be accepted.

9.5.1 – Noise Exemption – Cascade Street Generation Project. Resolution. That Council grant Bracebridge Generation an exemption to By-law 2009-5301, a bylaw to prohibit and regulate noise within the municipality to allow their contractor to work on the Cascade Street generation project on Sunday, March 26 and Sunday, April 2 between the hours of 09:00 and 19:00 and further; That Council grant the Director of Public Works the authority to permit the contractor to work during prohibited days and times as may be requested by Bracebridge Generation in the future and as may be deemed necessary in order to avoid significant delays to the project completion.

9.5.2 – Shopper’s Dock Replacement. Resolution. That Council approve the transfer of $10,000 from the Infrastructure Replacement Reserve to the Operating budget to fund the construction of new shopper’s docks.

9.5.3 – Quotation – Madvac LN50. Resolution. That Council approve single sourcing and accept the quotation from Joe Johnson Equipment for one new model Madvac complete with a 48″ hydraulic raise and lower vacuum head in the amount of $57,800, taxes extra.

By-laws

10.1.1 – Approval of Funding Agreement – New Horizons for Seniors Program Ontario Spokesperson: April McNamara, Manager of Parks and Recreation By-law 2017 – 672. Being a By-law to authorize the execution of a Letter of Agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in right of the Province of Ontario, represented by the Minister of Transportation for the Province of Ontario (the “Ministry”) and the Town of Parry Sound (the “Municipality”) Related to Funding Provided by the Province of Ontario (the “Province”) to the Municipality under the Dedicated Gas Tax Funds for Public Transportation Program

10.1.2 – Cash-in-lieu of Parking Agreement – Z/17/02 – 25 Mary Street – Aleesha Mullen. By-law 2017 – 6722. Being a By-law to authorize the execution of a cash-in-lieu of parking agreement between 25 Mary Street (Aleesha Mullen) and The Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound

10.1.3 – Revised Site Plan Control By-law. By-law 2017 – 6723. Being a By-law to designate a Site Plan Control Area for The Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound and repeal By-law 2015-6545.

I won’t be showing up this week. I’m making a presentation in the Big Apple for a client.

 

Parry Sound EDO – Just in Time

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I received a call today from a town resident who wanted to discuss the new Economic Development Officer (EDO) and my thoughts on whether the Town needed this position. Picking up my copy of the North Star a bit later and reading the editorial I understood where the question came from. The editorial suggested that the EDO position really wasn’t something the Town should invest in. I wish they would have thought about it a bit more. My sense is that the position is absolutely necessary.

The EDO position has much the same responsibilities that I held in Business Development working with multi-billion dollar corporations making investments globally. We were expected to identify opportunities, assess their contribution to the bottom line and, as approved by management, get the deals done.

The thing you quickly realize doing this type of job is that your responsibility is not only to identify and get the best deals done, your job is also to identify the opportunities that don’t make sense, and make the business case to walk away from them. Management often has their pet projects that they want to see done, sometimes because they ‘have a feeling’, and sometimes because they figure it will enhance their career prospects if successful. And if it’s not, well they can just move on before the you know what hits the fan. The job of the EDO or Business Development Officer is to understand the risks and make sure management doesn’t enter into a deal with an inflated sense of opportunity.

Looking back over my career I’m as proud of the deals that I turned down as those that I completed. In many cases, it took courage to stand up to senior management and make the argument that the idea wasn’t in the best interests of the company. It’s not easy, but it’s very necessary.

Right now, the Town is looking at multiple business investment opportunities being suggested by Council (aka Senior Management). Someone with real world experience needs to look at these opportunities, develop the business case, calculate the net present values (NPV) of the opportunities, and provide an opinion. The Town of Parry Sound doesn’t have that experience on staff. Hiring a consultant to do this type of job would be much, much more expensive, and they wouldn’t have any ’skin in the game’. If a consultant makes a mistake they just walk on to the next job and blame failure on poor ‘execution’ by the client. The individual being hired for the EDO position in Parry Sound seems as though they will have some ownership.

Doing a little bit of Sunshine List research reveals that Mr. Harris, the new EDO, earned a little more than $260,000 plus $16,000 in benefits in 2013. Someone thought he was pretty good.

I will take the North Star to task for a little bit of sloppy research. They stated that the current Town of Parry Sound debt is $1.5 million, and that figure will rise to $4.2 million in 2021. Oh, I wish! That’s just the carrying cost for the Town’s debt, basically the annual ‘mortgage payment’. According to 2017 budget documents the Town expects to carry about $24 million in debt by the end of 2017, which will drop to $20 million by 2021 if no additional capital investments are made. If one adds in the projects being discussed, the Town’s debt may rise to over $40 million in five years.

We currently have one member of Council who seems to be ready to go ‘all in’ with Town capital projects in hopes of stimulating more business and tax revenue. My worry is this individual doesn’t really have the experience to judge these opportunities and seems to not have a long term interest in Parry Sound, and probably won’t be here five years from now. It will be left to others to clean up any mess that may be left behind. But that’s being pessimistic, these suggestions may very well prove to be the type of investments that the Town needs to make and will pay off ‘hugely’.

That is exactly why we need an Economic Development Officer on staff. We need the expertise on staff to assess the many proposals that will come from Council and businesses, and make their best recommendation. Hopefully Mr. Harris will focus on the interests of the Town’s residents and businesses, not the egos of elected officials. Sometimes the best deal you ever made is the deal you didn’t make.

I’d rather be paying a little bit more and having the full attention of an EDO rather than trying to get a share of a regional EDO with too many constituencies to please.

Welcome aboard Mr. Harris. We very much need your contribution.

Council Agenda Preview – March 7, 2017

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Another light session of Council with little of major consequence in my opinion. It seems that the Town and Parry Sound Bikes are both discovering the realities of selling and buying a heritage property (Item 9.1.2). I wish both parties good luck and may the unexpected expenses not kill your affection for the project. There is also an interesting point being made regarding garbage expenses for condo properties (Item 4.2).

Other than that, explanation and comments are offered for a couple agenda items (4.1, 9.1.1). As always, check out the full agenda package at the Town’s website to be sure there isn’t something I’ve missed that you feel is important.

Closed Session

c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (Development Review and Priorities)

d) labour relations or employee negotiations. (Performance Review, Business Unit Review)

Correspondence

 4.1 – Melinda Reith, CAO/Clerk, United Townships of Head, Clara & Maria. Re: Building Code Changes.
This concerns regulations related to the municipal inspection of septic systems every five years.

4.2 – Kirsten Both, Muskoka Condo & Rental Services. Re: Concerns regarding waste removal costs in condo taxes and private waste removal expense.
This is an interesting situation. The folks at Granite Harbour Condos would like the Town to rebate them for the portion of their property taxes that are associated with waste removal in as much as they are required to remove their own waste. They estimate that this amounts to a cost of about $12-42/month/unit, paid for separately by the condominium association and added to the owners monthly charges. It’s a fair point in my opinion and is probably a direct response to the heft property tax increase faced by condominium owners as a result of the increased valuation of condos in Parry Sound.

4.3 – West Parry Sound SMART Community Network Inc. Re: Invitation to Special Meeting and AGM – Wednesday April 5, 2017

Deputations

 5.1 – Stuart Morley, MBA, Executive Director of Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network (PMCN). Re: Business development initiatives that Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network (PMCN) is considering for Parry Sound businesses to allow them to upgrade their digital presence.

Consent Agenda

8.1 – Community Tower Garden Project. Resolution. That Council of the Town of Parry Sound fully support Harvest Share’s Parry Sound Community Tower Garden Project to engage the community, workplaces and local students to grow food using community tower gardens for the West District of Parry Sound’s food providers; and That Council support the Town taking a lead role through the active participation in the program by Town staff.

Resolutions and Direction to Staff

 9.1.1 – Consent Application – B 3/2017 (PS) (Creasor). Resolution. That Consent Application No. B 3/2017 (PS) (Creasor) 64 Parry Sound Drive and 70 Parry Sound Drive, be supported.
This concerns a small lot addition at Buchan’s Autobody for a storage shed and snow storage.

9.1.2 – Parry Sound Bikes – Requests -Old Fire Hall. Resolution. That Council approve the following requests from Parry Sound Bikes:
1. The Town of Parry Sound will provide Parry Sound Bikes with 1 dumpster on the site to be used for the removal of items left in the building from previous use. The Town of Parry Sound will incur all costs for the delivery of the dumpster, Parry Sound Bikes will remove all items from the building.
2. The Town of Parry Sound will waive all permit fees associated with heritage signage on the building. Parry Sound Bikes will submit permits for all signage, and will pay all permits for building signage.
3. The Town of Parry Sound will waive the ‘cash in lieu of parking’ for the accessory apartment as the building was proposed with an apartment and with no option for purchase of parking. The Town of Parry Sound will also grant a permit for one space in the Gibson Street lot or a designated spot, next to the building for the apartment for a 5-year term. Parry Sound Bikes will be responsible for winter snow removal of the designated spot. Parry Sound Bikes is happy to work with Public Works to negotiate the best spot that does not disrupt their snow removal efforts.
4. The Town of Parry Sound and Public Works will work with Parry Sound Bikes to partially close a section of Gibson Street for many hours to allow for a Genie lift required for the replacement of the siding on the tower. Parry Sound Bikes will not be charged for any road closures required for the replacement of the tower siding.
5. The Town of Parry Sound will pay any costs associated with the disposal of the asbestos siding removed from the tower portion of the building. Parry Sound Bikes was not made aware that the siding was asbestos until after the proposal had been submitted.

9.3.1 – Wasauksing Swing Bridge. Resolution. Whereas the proposed suspension and restricted conditions of the Wasauksing Swing Bridge operations proposed by Transport Canada creates passenger safety issues for a major Town tourist attraction, the Island Queen, and also threatens the Town and area’s vital tourism economy and the lifestyle of area residents, the Town of Parry Sound Council supports the Township of the Archipelago’s request for Transport Canada and the appropriate INAC representatives to come to a town hall meeting in the Town of Parry Sound to address various concerns noted above and elsewhere identified as well as to discuss appropriate alternative methods of addressing those concerns.

By-laws

10.1.1 – Execution of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale with Aleesha Mullen for purchase of the Old Fire Hall. By-law 2017 – 6716. Being a By-law to authorize the execution of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale between Aleesha Mullen and the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound.

10.1.2 – Site Plan Amendment Application – Trestle Brewing Company – 9 Great North Road Spokesperson: Taylor Elgie, Principal Planner. By-law 2017 – 6717. Being a By-law to grant Site Plan Approval and authorize the execution and registration of a development agreement with 1929330 Ontario Inc. – 9 Great North Road and repeal By-law 2015-6548.

10.2.1 – Execution of an agreement with Township of Carling for By-law Enforcement Services. By-law 2017 – 6719. A By-law to authorize the execution of an agreement between The Corporation of Carling Township and the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound for bylaw enforcement services from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

 

Parry Sound’s Business Stimulus Plan – v2016

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The recently issued Town of Parry Sound 2017 Key Objectives document presented and approved at a recent council meeting contained a couple of items that I thought were notable. In particular I noted the objective of having the Town gain control over the approval of Official Plan Amendments. At present the Town needs to get approval from the Province for these changes. As I have written earlier (Item 9.3.1) I don’t think this is a good idea. If Council can choose to make changes to the Official Plan against the stated opinions of the town’s residents and businesses we are likely to see some unpleasant surprises. At a recent Council meeting it was mentioned that this objective was previously approved by Council as part of the Official Business Plan. I have since tracked down a copy of that document.

The document is part of Resolution 2016-77 that was approved as part of the 2016-04-19 meeting of Parry Sound council (Item 9.6.1). Links to this open agenda document can be found hosted here on Parry Sounds.com. It’s worth taking a look at what the Business Stimulus Team has planned for Parry Sound. It explains a number of the initiatives listed in the 2017 Key Objectives document and the 2017 Budget. The original agenda package version includes the attachments not found in the approved by-law that was sent to me.

I have highlighted areas of interest, to me at least, in an annotated version of the approved by-law. Take the time to at least look over one of the documents and see if there is anything you are supportive of, or are concerned about. In either case, contact a member of Council and let them know what you think. Without input from the public they will do what they think is in the best interests of the community.

Parry Sound 2017 Staff Objectives

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The last Town of Parry Sound council meeting included a listing of Town Staff’s objectives for 2017. There isn’t too much controversial or concerning in the list. It is however an interesting exercise to review the list to get an idea of what’s on the top of mind for Council and Staff. These objectives are reviewed quarterly with updates included in one of the regular council meting packages.

To make it easier to keep track of these documents I will be hosting a list of relevant Town of Parry Sound documents, along with links. My plan at this stage is to have three types of links for each document. The first is a link to the document at the Town of Parry Sound website if it is available (not all are available with direct links and some are often found only in the Town of Parry Sound council agenda packages). The second link will be to a copy hosted at this site. The third is a copy hosted at this site that I have marked up. This third link may be of interest to those who want to get a quick idea of the issues that I feel are worth noting. Not all three types of links may be available for a document: there may not be a direct link available to the Town’s website, or I may not have marked up a document. In almost all cases there will be a link to the document hosted here at Parry Sounds.

Let me know if there are additional documents you think should be included in the list.

Here is a link to the page on this site that hosts this growing list or reports.

Shine a Light – Municipal Politics

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Yesterday’s North Star ran an article about concerns regarding the behaviour of councillors during Township of the Archipelago’s council meetings. Here’s a link to the online version of the article.

Having attended some 150 or so meetings of the Town of Parry Sound Council I have yet to see any type of inappropriate behaviour on the part of the councillors in terms of language or respect. Yes, there have been a few occasions where one or more of the members of Council have rolled their eyes, or displayed ‘oppositional’ body language, but these have been very few and are not a part of the culture of the Town of Parry Sound Council. While I may not agree with all of the decisions of Parry Sound Council I do respect them as a group, and as individuals, for their professionalism.

The reported situation with the Archipelago brings back memories of what was going on at McKellar council meetings a couple of years ago. Since the North Star did a series of articles reporting on the behaviour of members of the McKellar Council it seems that things have headed in a more professional direction, to the benefit of all.

Shining a light on the proceedings of councils, be it through the ‘official media’, bloggers, or concerned residents who call out this type of immature and irresponsible conduct is a necessary part of the system of checks and balances. I applaud Anne Stewart for calling out Archipelago Council about her concerns. It takes courage to stand up and say what is often too obvious.

“Boys will be boys” is no longer an acceptable response to inappropriate behaviour. Too many organizations have been exposed as having a culture that is sexist and/or racially insensitive. After a period of ignoring the issue, and then of trying to explain the behaviour really isn’t what it seems to be, followed by explaining the behaviour is not reflective of the true ‘intent’ of the individuals, an organization finally starts to take responsibility. The next step, not always taken by many organizations, is to implement changes in culture, behaviour, and actions. If the problem starts at the top, then the change needs to start at the top.

A suggestion for the Archipelago; start recording and broadcasting your council meetings. Let the public see what goes on at your meetings and let them decide if the conduct of Council is appropriate. Decisions are no longer being made in backrooms in an all-boys club.

The availability of inexpensive recording devices, and easy ways to share the observations, has shone a light on how we as a society operate. Sometimes the light is unwelcome, but it is so necessary.