The minutes from the June 1st meeting have been posted. Here are a few comments: 3.2.1 – Salt Dock Boat …
No this doesn’t concern any of the topics I have recently commented on. I have already offered an apology for using the term “bitching and moaning” at a board meeting, and I don’t think Andrew will be getting any type of thank you, much less an apology.
The apology I am suggesting should be offered to Dr. Jim Chirico the Medical Officer of Health for the North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit. The people who should seriously consider apologizing are our local politicians and some of our local business leaders.
I have been quiet about the whole COVID-19 situation, but I have been following it closely, more as part of my professional activities than as a spectator sport. For fun I prefer to watch American politics. Anyone else miss Donald Trump? Watching him operate was like watching a 5-year-old trying to land a Boeing 747. Lots of confidence but no experience or natural ability to succeed. I am actually getting quite a bit more work done now that he is not coming up with his entertaining daily demonstrations of narcissism.
Have you looked at our COVID-19 infection and death figures relative to the other districts and municipalities? Do you remember when Dr. Chirico imposed certain restrictions when he first saw evidence of COVID-19 variants in our district? There was a howl from businesses and the public that resonated with the politicians who demanded he meet with them weekly to discuss the situation and explain his decisions. How about we have a similar forum where the politicians meet with the public on a weekly basis to answer our questions and criticisms? Yes, we have deputations, but all the politicians have to do is listen and then conclude the presentation with a simple mention that they will take the input under consideration. What if they or staff had to answer on the spot or provide a written response within a week? I am sure they would feel that this was an unreasonable questioning of their authority.
But when it comes to public health, everyone, and that includes politicians, public, and businesses, is willing to question the medical professionals from the perspective of what they have read online and their friends have posted on Facebook.
Perhaps an apology is too much to ask, a simple thank you would be appropriate. It’s no fun putting restrictions in place. It’s so much easier to let the kids play video games and watch YouTube rather than convince or coerce them into doing their homework. But like a responsible medical officer or parent you have to provide leadership with longer term considerations in mind. Short term pain is often required for long term gain.
Disclosure: I am still annoyed by the response of the Town of Parry Sound Council when it came to the fluoridation issue and their lack of leadership. I am sure that if you put COVID-19 restrictions to a vote we would have no restrictions. Voting on public health issues is not in the best interests of the community but it keeps voters happy and supporting the politicians when election time rolls around. Better to trust the professionals.
Let me wade into the discussion that was raised by a recent article in the North Star (ParrySound.com) concerning changes made at the Park-to-Park Trail (P2P) board of directors. I may have a useful perspective. I served on the board for a couple of years and continue to volunteer with the organization as webmaster for their website (parktoparktrail.org). I have also attended a few board meetings since I left about five years ago. As recently as a year ago I was involved with the P2P strategic plan.
Changes at the P2P Board Level
There is no question that changes were required at the board level. As was noted in the article there was a lack of direction and focus that required improvement. Whether this came through ‘shaking up the board’ or more fundamental help from the municipalities, it is not clear. Too often the thought is to fire the coach or the general manager when the team isn’t winning or at least meeting expectations. How has that worked for you Leaf fans? Sometimes the problem is with ownership.
An issue with the board certainly was alpha male syndrome. Skills that are valuable in one area of business or life don’t necessarily translate to board oversight. A related issue was the use of experience in the ‘field’ to push forward and support pet initiatives. Years of experience and a loud voice too often drowned out other ideas. It was not particularly overt, but it had an impact.
About Andrew Ryland
I have worked with Andrew on a couple of boards, P2P and the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce. We see each other occasionally at one of the grocery stores but do not socialize.
I would suggest that if changes were required on the P2P board that Andrew would have been one of the very last people I would have suggested be asked to leave. He has a wealth of business experience and a certain ‘savoir faire’ that is very useful in business and on the board. We worked together, along with other board members, on the turnaround of the Chamber when it hit financial difficulty. Yes, he was part of the board as the Chamber wandered into problems, and he was also part of the solution. Andrew has the type of ‘smarts’ you want and need on a board.
The Need for Savoir Faire
The term savoir faire is defined as “capacity for appropriate action; especially: a polished sureness in social behavior”. This is something I am not seeing much of from some municipalities. This is evidenced in this situation by the treatment that Andrew received in what seemed to be a hostile takeover, if not a coup. He suggested that a tap on the shoulder and a few words would have been enough to let him exit the organization appropriately with a relationship that would have allowed P2P to reach out to him for advice and help if necessary. Knowing Andrew, there is no question in my mind that he would have respected the heads up and done the right thing. I am not convinced that would have been the right solution, but perhaps it would have been done the right way.
There is expediency and there is common decency. I hope that people are learning the lessons. It will be hard to recruit board members and volunteers if they are poorly treated.
(The text has been lightly edited to correct grammatical errors and add a couple of clarifications. These changes are noted in italics)
What seems like a title for a Zane Grey novel is the best description I could come up with concerning a dispute between the Town and a property owner regarding property access and development. Until last week I had no idea a Rabbit Canyon Trail even existed, or at least not the name of the trail. Then the Town of Parry Sound’s news release kicked things off.
The Rabbit Canyon Trail refers to the small ungroomed foot and bike path that leads from Waubuno Beach past the old pumphouse to the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Plant. I have walked and cycled along this path hundreds of times over the past decade. A small portion of the trail is located on private property located to the northwest of Waubuno Beach. The image below highlights the property (red) and shows the two trails. The trail closest to the shore is the Rabbit Canyon Trail. The property in question is about two-thirds of an acre with an MPAC assessed value of $95,000.
The history of the property is recounted in the Town’s news release pasted below.
My understanding is that the property was sold to an individual in 1998 as part of a larger deal that involved Town property on what is now Baycrest Drive. The sale of the larger property was made on the understanding, if not the condition, that the property would be developed as residences. This has been the case with almost all of the lots developed. The Baycrest Drive development has an approximate MPAC assessment value of $10 million. That is worth about $150,000 annually in tax revenue and perhaps another $25,000 a year in water services. My back of the envelope calculation suggests that the development has been worth about $2 million to date in property taxes with the promise of a similar ‘tax annuity’ going forward. That is in addition to the original purchase price paid by the Developer. It should be remembered that the Town has been collecting property taxes on the lot in question for more than two decades. (Note – this transaction was revisited by Council in 2006.)
The Developer and the Town entered into an agreement that has for the most part worked out well for all involved. The neighbourhood is one of the most desirable, and high priced, in the Town and has been a magnet of sorts for upscale folks interested in living in Parry Sound. While many professionals, like those who work at the hospital or in law offices, have chosen to live on a waterfront property in one of the neighbouring municipalities, a number would prefer to be closer to work and not have to worry about a well and septic. Beyond Baycrest Drive there are relatively few upscale residential options in the Town besides condo living. This relative scarcity of options has certainly helped the Developer in finding buyers. At the same time the Town has benefited from having upscale accommodations to attract necessary professionals. Housing is perhaps the number one challenge in the area, regardless of price. We are short on services because professionals from the GTA, and I include tradespeople here, who want to be close to nature can’t find reasonable accommodation, at reasonable prices.
The Developer it seems would like to develop the property that spans the two town trails. They had an agreement in principle to be permitted to construct some sort of a ‘bridge’ over the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail to access the property from Baycrest Drive. The Town, in reading their news release, has decided that while they may have agreed in principle to the access now feels that it is not now in the ‘public interest’ to permit it. I can understand their position.
But, the Developer has delivered on the promises they made as part of the original agreement. Can the Town unilaterally decide that they will not honour this part of the agreement? It’s not as though there isn’t documentation regarding the expectations of both parties with regards to this property.
But, the Developer has a piece of property that is both desirable and undesirable as a residence. Yes, it does in theory have a view of the Big Sound, but the property is also sandwiched between two trails and on land that folks have come to use as a public park. Does any homeowner really want people on the trail checking out what’s going on in their yard and house at all times of the day and night? And building a ‘bridge’ to access the property will require a right-of-way from property from a Baycrest Drive, impacting lot value there. The logistics of building a bridge also seem difficult, expensive, and frankly, unrealistic. After a ‘landing spot’ for the bridge there isn’t that much land to work with for anything more than a bunkie.
The Town doesn’t want to negatively impact the Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail, an Amazing Place, with a bridge running over it. There won’t be much traffic or sound, but it really won’t provide a sense of nature. Would a bridge over the trail be any worse than the multiple trestles that crisscross the Town?
But, I think the Town wants people who do business with it to believe that the Town’s word and agreement can be trusted, even if it is little more than a handshake. This is now in question for an agreement that is much more than a handshake. Two current members of council were on council in 2006 when it revisited the agreement or understanding with the Developer. Did they at the time have no intention of honouring the outlines of the agreement? Or, did they have every intention of honouring it but now find it more ‘convenient’ to ignore it. There are communities in Canada who have well over a century of experience with governments preferring not to honour earlier agreements because it is not in the ‘public interest’.
Arguably the town holds the hammer, if not the sickle, in this situation. They have apparently simply said ‘nyet’ to the counterproposals offered by the Developer to address the impasse. I have not found that to be an effective way to do business. Failing to honour earlier agreements means that new developers will be more cautious in trusting the word of Staff and Council. If they are smart, they will attempt to gain their own leverage that can be pulled out when the Town backs off its commitments.
It seems to me that there is an agreement to be reached that may require all the parties to give a bit more than they would like. In the business world this is known as ‘taking a haircut’. But they can then move on to more important activities that benefit the Town and their own business.
I would suggest that if Staff and Council can’t handle this type of negotiation with some professionalism and ‘class’ they had better buckle up for when developers get ready to develop the property traversed by the Voldemort Trail. This the trail system that ‘shall not be mentioned’ on the other side of Salt Dock Road. There have been multiple no trespassing signs posted on the private property for more than a decade. This hasn’t stopped folks from treating it like municipal property. Securing legitimate public access to this trail if development on the property were to start will probably require the Town to exchange some waterfront rights to the actual North Shore Rugged Trail. I can imagine the screams that will be heard from people if the Town were to suggest that they won’t negotiate.
Let’s get this done, it’s a no-brainer. It’s time to head down to the barbershop and get a trim. Let’s not turn this into a Zane Grey sequel, ‘Shootout at Rabbit Canyon Trail’.
Disclosure: I have no financial or other material interest in the outcome of this issue, but I would like to have continued access to the Rabbit Canyon Trail. I would also like to see evidence that the Town does live up to its agreements, even if they are a handshake. It’s the basis of trust that permeates all parts of municipal government, and our trust in their decisions and actions. I have spoken to the representative for the Developer regarding this issue. I have not spoken to the Town. My experience has been that the Town will not discuss the issue with me because I am not a party to the matter. My understanding is that they won’t even speak with the developer’s representative in a constructive manner.
A very recent article in the North Star (link) covered a discussion at the Sequin Township where one of the councillors, Mr. Daryl Moffat, raised an issue at a recent West Parry Sound District Museum board meeting. Mr. Moffat was unhappy about what he characterized as disrespectful and aggressive behaviour at the meeting by one of the other board members that led him to resign and also suggest that Seguin consider withholding the municipality’s annual contribution to the Museum.
I wish to out myself as the board member who made the comment he found offensive. The comment in question included the expression “bitching and moaning”. Had I realized he found it particularly offensive I would have been happy to apologize. The terms were used to better express my reason for undertaking certain previous activities to mitigate issues that Mr. Moffat had previously expressed concerning operations.
I would have apologized at the time had Mr. Moffat not chosen to abruptly, and without warning, leave the Zoom meeting. I have my thoughts about why he left the meeting abruptly and they don’t concern my use of the aforementioned words. I suspect Mr. Moffat was not happy with the position I was likely to take on an issue that was largely at the heart of the closed board meeting he had requested.
Mr. Moffat, I would like to publicly apologize to you for using the terms “bitching and moaning” during the board meeting. I also apologize for any aggressiveness that you might have felt threatened by.
For clarification purposes, I still hold the same position concerning the issue that was under discussion. It was important for me at the time to ensure that another board member did not mischaracterize my actions and motivations. I clearly should have used a less offensive expression.
It is unfortunate that this has become a public issue but it is perhaps a learning experience for all involved. I hope that Seguin Township will continue to provide its critical financial support to the Museum as well as the important oversight offered by their board representative. The Museum has made important advances over this very difficult year of which Mr. Moffat’s contributions were an important part.
Well, I am a little annoyed. I feel as though I have been patted on the head by a teacher who actually doesn’t understand the issue at hand. Or perhaps is trying to avoid the issue.
At the last meeting of Council the proposed water rates, applicable for the next decade, were approved. I’m okay with that. There is a price increase, but it is not too onerous and at least I can afford it. What annoyed me was the statement that the consultants did a sensitivity analysis on the rates based on comments received and estimated that the possible difference amounted to a $3 or $4 a year cost reduction for the average residential customer. They stressed the forecast by increasing the number of new accounts annually from 3 to 20 connections. What wasn’t provided in the council minutes was how that impacted water consumption. If the Report now estimates that consumption will increase by 0.6% over the next decade, it suggests the ‘high connection’ forecast figure is a 4% increase over the same period.
Well, let’s take a look at the history of the Town of Parry Sound water consumption over the past eight years, 2011 to 2019. (Staff, don’t you just hate it when taxpayers save old reports?) The increase over that period was 17.4%, from 160,222,866 to 188,077,355 Imperial Gallons.
It’s interesting to note that in the 2012 report by the same consultants it was stated – “Factoring in potential for further conservation of this period, no consumption growth has been assumed in the forecast.” I guess they that feel if they fooled us once they can get away with it again. Or perhaps they aren’t paying sufficient attention. Or these are the number that Staff wanted them to use.
So, in the past nine years the Town saw an increase in water consumption of 17.4% with a forecast of 0%, for the next decade we are to believe that consumption will only go up by 0.6%, or 4% in the ‘high connection’ scenario?
At the most recent council meeting Mayor McGarvey announced the following progress in 2020:
112 building permits issued
16 new residential units
4 commercial units
1 Best Western Plus hotel
That’s one year of development, and all of that development will be part of the coming decade’s water forecast.
Given the very obvious population migration north and the Town’s hot real estate market do you really think we will be seeing a development depression for the remaining nine years?
I call BS on Town Staff for the report and water rate recommendation. They are sandbagging and covering their asses. While there is nothing wrong with using a pessimistic, and arguably unrealistic, estimate of future water consumption growth, that scenario needs to clearly stated. But, explaining that the scenario was unreasonably pessimistic, and that proposed rates are probably higher than they need to be, would take courage because water customers would complain. It’s so much easier to pretend that the low growth numbers are ‘reasonable’ and avoid any complaints about the rates by stating something to the effect of ‘the rates fall out of the forecast costs and revenues’.
A question – is there any chance the Town of Parry Sound taxpayers will see the 2021 draft budget before it is approved?
A remembrance – Trevor, Christine, Brenda, I miss the courage and transparency you provided.
A reality – ignore me, but don’t try patting me on the head. I might bite.
I opened the Town’s recently issued water report prepared by Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. to review it and take notes. It all started reasonably and then I hit page 2.1. (The report can be downloaded from the Town’s website through this link.) That’s where the WTF reaction arose.
The report states that there are currently 2,346 customers for water and 2,273 for wastewater services. Okay, that seems reasonable, the consultants have the Town’s account numbers. The report goes on to assume there will be a total of 30 new customers (three new accounts per year) for water and wastewater services over the period 2020 to 2030. I take this to mean from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2029, a ten-year period. This is an increase of 1.3% over ten years. Water consumption is expected to increase by 0.7%.
How do you assume only 30 total new water customers when house conversions to multiple units are ongoing, the Lighthouse development will be coming on line, as will Thunder Creek? These two developments will create dozens of new accounts. There is also the Acorn Ridge development on Louisa Street with potentially hundreds of new accounts that is on the back burner for now but is more than likely to arrive in the next decade given the demand for housing in the Town and the willingness of people to pay whatever it costs to get out of the Big Smoke and retain the luxury of high speed internet without worrying about wells and septic systems.
What about the new Recreation Centre? Will they be filling the pool with water pumped directly out of the Big Sound?
The report states that it is presenting a ‘conservative’ forecast. There is ‘conservative’ and there is ‘sandbagging’. Town staff are pretty experienced at sandbagging. I see it regularly in the annual budgets and largely ignore it as it is not too egregious and there is no ulterior motive. If you put a budget item in at a higher cost than you actually expect to pay you are a hero for the savings. At the same time these ‘extra’ funds are now available to pay for other items that Council was not willing to consider because of the expense, or the savings can cover other items where there was an error made by underestimating a cost. Sandbagging is not hard to identify if you know what you are looking for.
It seems that in the case of the Water Report the sandbagging is being done to rationalize higher water rates. The largest part of water and wastewater costs are not related to the cost of purifying and pumping water or processing wastewater before discharge, it is related to the cost of building and maintaining the supporting infrastructure. This includes things like upgrading and servicing pumping stations, replacing pipe, and installing new pipe. With no growth in customers and water use there is no need for additional water related infrastructure; you take a maintain and upgrade only when necessary approach.
I have put off reading the cost and revenue estimates provided in the report pending an answer from the Town about the growth rate presented in the report. Once I have an explanation, I will take another look at the report and provide you with an overview of the report, the conclusions, and the implications. That won’t be until the ‘holiday week’ is over and Staff is available.
Do we need an economic development officer to get a total of 1% growth over ten years? Do we need a fulltime Chief Building Officer if there is no significant construction expected? What about a Planner?
Come on folks, was Staff unable to identify the discrepancy or did they actually request it? The Town would have seen and commented on the report before it was issued. Consultants know what they are doing. Forecasting a smaller than realistic growth in water accounts has the net effect of raising the rates the Town charges each of us for water and wastewater. It’s only a few percent points difference but it is meaningful. Screwing around with your assumptions to get the number you want is deceitful and ruins your credibility. Keep your assumptions realistic and be direct with the cost that will be required. Don’t sandbag it. Or if you do want to really lowball the numbers then state that in the assumptions. Don’t call it ‘conservative’.
Oh, in case you were wondering, WTF means What the Forecast.
Oh boy, where to start?
A recent ParrySound.com article reviewed the discussion at a Carling Townhip council meeting concerning the municipalities concerns about COVID-19. Their concerns are understandable but unfortunately labeled folks who could not be immediately identified as Carling residents as ‘transients’. If like me, you don’t live in Carling you are a transient if you visit a friend or do business there. By that definition Carling residents who shop at Sobeys and NoFrills are also ‘transients’.
COVID-19 has everybody on edge. That’s no reason to point fingers and label people. It’s the type of response we abhor when there is a report of an African American being followed, and too often physically assaulted, by residents because he didn’t ‘look’ like he was ‘from there’. Or at least that is what they thought.
As home to one of the very largest Provincial Parks in Ontario I would have thought that at this point Carling Councilors would think of people ‘from away’ as visitors, tourists, or even guests.
As a resident of the Town of Parry Sound we are very used to sharing our town and our facilities with people from Carling, the other municipalities, and visitors/tourists/guests from the province, the country, and the world.
Do you want to launch a boat and leave your trailer there for the day? At Parry Sound you can do it. Want to enjoy Waubuno Beach? Please enjoy, be careful and be considerate.
There were recent rumblings in McDougall that folks wanted to limit beach use to residents. Both McDougall and Carling restrict, and in many cases prohibit, parking and by extension use of their municipal and federal boat launches unless you have a resident sticker. They will make arguments that there is limited space and residents should have first access. In many cases I see the parking spots empty. How about half reserved for residents and half for ‘visitors’? Or it just a ploy to keep the ‘transients’ out? It certainly keeps me out.
There is nothing like a threat to bring out the worst in people. And we wonder why the U.S. and Canadian large cities have problems with ‘profiling’. We have exactly the same instincts and flaws but are not put under typical urban stressors until something like COVID-19 brings our fears to the front.
Trust but confirm and be careful. People won’t infect you if you take the proper precautions. People camping on Crown Land are not a threat.
Once again there are no real surprises with the exception perhaps of 7.1.1 which came out of the Closed Session (brief discussion follows). Those of you interested in the activity and plans for the Town of Parry Sound Downtown Business Association will appreciate the summary of their deputation, 5.1.
7.1.1 – Town Position on Parry Sound Public Library Building Ownership.
This is interesting because it suggests the Library Board had requested the Town to take over ownership and responsibility for the Library building. This is very understandable. There are a number of publicly funded services in Town that are only sufficiently resourced to support basic operational functions, not the care and maintenance of the associated building.
We have been reminded of the costs involved with the Town’s decision to spend more than $1 million on each of the Stockey Centre, the Bobby Orr Community Centre, and Big Sound Marina for only necessary infrastructure upgrades and repairs. This is in addition to about $400,000 annually in direct support for each of the Stockey Centre and Bobby Orr Community Centre to cover their losses on operations. In total this adds up to more than a million dollars annually to support these operations without the cost of facility maintenance and upgrades. And now the Town wants to build a new recreation facility, Da Pool, which will most likely add a half million dollars annually in additional operational expenses. And there will be carried expenses related to the construction.
This reminds me of a deadbeat father who supports his current family, is planning for his next family, and tells his ex and her children to support themselves.
Dear Town Leaders – You created it, you support it.
b) personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees, (staff member performance review).
c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes, (request for Town to take ownership of a property).
e) litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board, (claim against Town funds).
n) educating or training council members and no member discusses or otherwise deals with any matter in a way that materially advances the business or decision-making of Council, (Site Locations for Parry Sound Area Recreation Centre)
Questions of Staff
3.2.1 – In response to Councillor Keith’s inquiry regarding the storm this past Sunday, Director of Public Works Mike Kearns reported that there were some issues due to downed trees and power outages, and Lakeland Power changed a pole at the north end of Town due to damage; however given the nature of the strong storm surge, damage was relatively minimal.
3.2.2 – In response to Councillor Keith’s inquiry regarding the status of the installation of the railing on Cascade St. hill east of the tracks, Mr. Kearns reported that this work should be completed soon.
3.2.3 In response to Councillor Borneman’s inquiry on an update on the usage, revenues and costs associated with the reopening of the Bobby Orr Community Centre and the Stockey Centre, Director of Finance Stephanie Phillips said that a report would be forthcoming to the next Council Meeting and that the finances are on track with projections. CAO Clayton Harris also reported that the Senior Leadership Team will be meeting tomorrow to discuss how to respond if the province does issue further lock- down directives.
4.1 – Mackenzie Taylor, Deputy Clerk, Township of Carling.
Carling Township opposition to EMS Surplus Levy
4.2 – Mackenzie Taylor, Deputy Clerk, Township of Carling.
Future Special Meeting to be held to hear recommendations from Wellness Centre & Pool Committee after the grant has been determined.
4.3 – Rita Orr, CEO, Parry Sound Public Library.
Budget request of $211,150.00 for 2021.
4.4 – Parry Sound Affordable Housing Development Corporation.
Copy of letter to Parry Sound District Social Services Administration Board requesting that it continue to pay property taxes for the Housing Dev. Corporation’s properties if MPAC grants a tax exemption; and e-mail to the Town regarding current and proposed initiatives related to a seniors housing complex and purchase of a local motel to provide housing.
(Note – no indication was offered as to the action taken with respect to these Correspondence items.)
5.1 – April Denman, Executive Director, Downtown Business Association; Amy Black, Chair Events Committee; Seanan Megyesi, Chair Marketing Committee; and Brenda Ryan, Chair Beautification Committee.
2020 Year in Review
DBA Executive Director April Denman addressed Council noting that this year is the 50th anniversary of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) – a made in Ontario innovation, with 500 across Canada now, including 300 in Ontario. Ms. Denman expressed appreciation for the working relationship with the Town’s Public Works Director, Parks & Recreation Manager and their teams. The fundraising meter campaign raised $256.78 for each of RISE, The Salvation Army, Hope Pregnancy Centre, and the Mary St. Centre; and the recipients of the next parking meter fundraising campaign will be the Guides, Georgian Jumpers, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and Whispering River Orchestra. Ms. Denman introduced Committee Chairs and each spoke in turn.
Events Committee Chair and co-owner of Pardon My Garden Amy Black reported on two events held this year – Hallowe’en in the Downtown partnering with Parry Sound Public Library; and the Parry Sound Girlfriends weekend extended this year to a week- long event to accommodate spacing out of store visits, with 188 registrants so far, good feedback and a good base from which to build on again for next year.
Marketing Committee Chair and owner of Boston Pizza Seanan Meygesi reported that in light of the COVID pandemic, marketing was adjusted from a focus on events to highlighting local businesses, introducing the hashtag #localfirst and sharing members’ posts to expand local reach. Along with launch of a new website, the DBA created an instagram account making it easier to share news with 480 followers, and restructured twitter. “New Feature Fridays” are running on facebook telling background stories on new business owners and sharing members’ posts, with an increase of 25-30 followers a month since March. Going forward the DBA will work alongside the Events Committee to develop safe social distancing events that will continue to focus on shopping locally.
Chair of the Beautification Committee and owner of FAD Brenda Ryan reported that the Beautification Committee has almost completed its plan, implemented to meet the goal of creating an atmosphere that attracts more people to explore the downtown core. The following points were made by Ms. Ryan:
– The installation of 10 in-ground gardens – the biggest project is now complete. Logging 250 hours this year, 4 volunteers working Saturdays starting at 7 AM clean up the gardens, weed and dead-head. With the garden expansion program that also includes 2 “living room gardens” in the parking lot, the DBA is looking at having a more structured volunteer program assigning volunteers to certain gardens
– Continued with seasonal installation of the black planters in front of businesses.
– Removal of many of the overhanging metal signs, replaced by more quaint wooden carved blade signs projecting from businesses, making a more visually attractive and pedestrian-friendly feel. Businesses that didn’t get them this year are asking for them. 3- 4 signs are still to be installed at the Beatty building once their renovations have been completed.
– Trillium banners added to the collection, with the hope that banners will be installed all the way down Bay Street.
– Sidewalk cafes became more of a reality this year, with hopes that Council will support extending the patio season.
– Installed cigarette butt receptacles with good feedback received on these. – Plan to work over next years with building owners to improve facades.
– When veterans banners come down, Christmas decorations will go up, and a multi- year plan being developed for those.
– Lights installed in Jukes Lane.
– Appreciation extended to Town staff for helping, in particular April McNamara and Mike Kearns, as well as Mayor & Council for their support in transforming the downtown.
Ratification of Matters from Closed Agenda
7.1.1 – Town Position on Parry Sound Public Library Building Ownership.
Be it resolved that Council of the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound does hereby advise the Parry Sound Public Library Board, that the Town does not wish to own the Library Board’s building on Mary Street.
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – Letter of support to Ministry of Energy regarding net-metering.
That as measure of the Town’s commitment to energy management, grid resilience and moving toward being a net-zero community, Council hereby authorizes the Mayor to sign the attached letter of support to the Ministry of Energy regarding net-metering in the Town of Parry Sound.
9.2.1 – Respond to Council Direction Regarding Payment of Cash-in-Lieu of Parking
That, as a result of staff’s review as documented in the attached report, no changes will be made to the cash-in-lieu of parking policy/By-law.
10.1.1 – Funding Agreement for Installation of Access Controls (Fobbing).
By-law 2020 – 7082
Being a by-law to authorize ratification of the execution of an agreement with PMCN for a Business Technology Improvement Grant for access controls (fobbing).
Passed, Signed & Sealed
10.4.1 – 2020 Debenture Capital Works – Waubeek & Isabella Streets.
By-law 2020 – 7083
Being a By-law to approve the submission of an application to Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation (“OILC”) for the long-term financing of certain capital works (Isabella and Waubeek Streets) of The Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound (The “Municipality”); and to authorize the entering into of a rate offer letter agreement pursuant to which the municipality will issue debentures to OILC.
I do not share the political position that Mr. Orr put forward in an ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader. But I understand why he did and the politics he was supporting.
Politics is much like religion. You either actively search for what you believe to be most consistent with your interests and values, or you adopt the religion and politics of your family and community.
I believe Mr. Orr’s politics were learned and adopted from the community that he politically ‘came of age in’. Not his teens or twenties, but rather his thirties and beyond.
When Mr. Orr finished his hockey career, he was a legend and bankrupt. He probably had limited professional skills beyond his considerable hockey abilities. What he had developed was determination, a good heart, and a world-class reputation. This is what he needed to leverage to succeed in his post hockey years.
I suspect that Mr. Orr’s financial success depends in large part on people, particularly businessmen, who valued his company and his endorsement. Given the regional nature of hockey almost a half century ago this probably meant he was supported by businessmen in the U.S. northeast. Having a legendary hockey star on hand to shake hands at a car dealership, or to speak at a sales meeting, would have been a good business investment. Although I do not know the details of Mr. Orr’s business activities, we have seen how his presence at a Parry Sound event can bring out folks and open wallets for charitable causes. That ability can be leveraged for charity and business.
The politics of these northeast U.S. businessmen would have been conservative and Republican. Being adopted by this community, not as a shill, but as a legend who could connect to people, meant that he learned their style and their politics. It wasn’t a matter of not biting the hand that feeds you but rather a belief born out of experience that these are good people, and their politics make sense. Until some four years ago taking out an ad in support of a Republican president would not have been newsworthy or polarizing.
I worked in the U.S. for the better part of three decades. I would estimate that more than 80% of my American business friends vote Republican. These are good people with whom I don’t agree when it comes to politics. Some are mortified by the behaviour of the current president and just don’t want to discuss it. How they voted last month I don’t know, but I suspect most voted Republican down ballot and did not check the box for president. While they might not have been willing to support Trump, they certainly weren’t going to vote for a Democrat. They have a conscience but are still Republicans to the core.
I think Mr. Orr was encouraged by his ‘community’ to place the ad. If you benefit from having Republican connections, you sometimes have to prove you are ‘all-in’. It’s not unlike a religion where you are expected to demonstrate your commitment by going door to door to share the faith, or standing on a corner and asking for donations, or even going to war. Fortunately, it’s not like an inner-city gang where you prove your loyalty by ‘offing’ a member of an opposing gang.
Let’s cut Mr. Orr some slack and appreciate him for what he is and what he does. We shouldn’t judge people by their race, religion or politics. Let’s judge people by their actions, not their opinions.