The council agenda doesn’t look too heavy, and I expect it will be over by 8:30. In contrast the closed session looks a little more full, and is scheduled for an hour and a half.
There are a couple of issues on the agenda that concern me. While the actions being recommended to Council don’t appear to be controversial they have implications for local businesses and residents that in my opinion don’t seem ‘fair’. I have more about this in the body of this post.
2.1.1 – a public meeting to consider a proposed Zoning By-law amendment to rezone Part of Lot 25, Concession 1, Plan 42R-10676, [effectively the Sobeys property]. The rezoning would permit up to 4,270 square meters of total gross floor area, and remove the reference to a retail food store, allowing for the development of a new retail commercial development. [I’m not sure what this refers to but we’ll see on Tuesday night. I would imagine that the current Sobeys property will be expanded and/or new retail operations will be operated on the property.]
4.1 – Jerry J. Ouellette, M.P.P, Oshawa regarding Council’s formal position on being excluded from the Spring Bear Hunt Pilot Project. [See item 8.1 below for more information.]
4.2 – Hands The Family Help Network, a request for funding in the amount of $28,000 towards their expansion. [Disclosure – I am a board member of this organization. The bottom line is that Hands is requesting $28K from the Town for their $1.5MM expansion to provide additional services to children in the greater Parry Sound area. They are also requesting support from our neighbouring municipalities for the facility. It’s a necessary resource to help families deal with mental health challenges. An interesting statistic, Hands serves more than a third of the 0 to 24 age group in the West Parry Sound area on an annual basis, yes that’s 1 in 3 children and young adults make use of Hands services.]
4.3 – The Salvation Army, Rainbow Country Church, regarding the relocation of the Friday Night Street Ministry. [This group is asking the Town to relocate a power outlet and also ‘reserve’ parking for their mobile ministry unit on Friday nights. I have often walked by their vehicle on my way to the library on a Friday night and seen the large number of people gathered around their vehicle. It seems a very small accommodation on the part of the Town to meet the needs of the less fortunate.]
4.4 – Veterans and Their Families in Our Community; an invitation to attend the OSUM Conference in Parry Sound April 2nd to May 3rd.
4.5 – OSUM (Ontario Small Urban Municipalities) regarding a nomination form to serve on the Executive Board 2014 OSUM Conference being held in Parry Sound. [See item 8.4.]
8.1 – Council’s formal position on being excluded from the Spring Bear Hunt Pilot Project. The Town of Parry Sound requests the Ministry of Natural Resources to include area 46 and 49 in the proposed Pilot Program. [We want to be part of bear huntin’ country. The Ministry is renewing a spring bear hunt program to remove nuisance bears; it’s cheaper to kill them than to manage them. It has the smell of ‘ethno-cleansing’, albeit they are not homo sapiens. It’s not clear to me how hunters will be able to distinguish a nuisance bear. If you’re in the wrong part of town you’re assumed to be bad. Wrong place, wrong time. “Just kill ‘em all and let God decide”. Now, before everyone gets their ‘knickers in a twist’ I empathize with the issues of nuisance bears, but this seems to be an unreasonably callous way to solve what may or may not be a problem in the cheapest way possible. Actually, it could make money with permit and tourism revenue. Apparently this consent item requests that the Town be included in the bear hunt. I’ll be interested to hear what comments, if any, there will be from the Councillors. I’ll also be interested in understanding exactly where in Town hunters will be permitted to shoot so as to ensure the safety of the public. You don’t hunt bear with birdshot.]
8.2 – a request to schedule a special meeting of Council to discuss the 2014 budget.
8.3 – the Town of Parry Sound urges the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to reject (and seek alternatives to) Ontario Power Generation’s proposal to bury radioactive nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin. [This is a carry over from the previous meeting of Council. I’m not sure what the issue was with the previous consent agenda item but it basically has the same intent.]
8.4 – the nomination of Mayor Jamie McGarvey as a board member of the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Board Nomination to the OSUM Executive Board. [This is a follow up to item 4.5.]
Resolutions and Direction To Staff
9.1.1 – Panasonic Toughbook computer purchase for EMS. Resolution. [$24K for 6 laptop computers with specialized software and hardware.]
9.3.1 – Approve Signing Authorities and Corporate Credit Cards. Resolution. [The assignment of signing authority for Staff and Council. Nothing unusual, just an update to current authorizations.]
9.4.1 – Consent Application B1/2014(PS). Resolution. That Council supports Consent Application No. B1/2014(PS) – Garagan – 71 Bowes Street subject to confirmation resultant lots would meet the requirements of the zoning by-law (i.e. servicing and setbacks). [This seems to be an administrative follow up to a previous application that had lapsed.]
9.4.2 – Big Sound Marina & Town Dock Operating Contract. Resolution. That Council direct staff to negotiate an operating contract with Massasauga Management Co. Inc., for operation of Big Sound Marina and the Town Dock, per the framework attached as Schedule ‘A’; and that Council approves a usage mix of 25 seasonal slips and 95 transient slips. [As noted in a previous post, I have an issue with the last point, the renting out of seasonal dockage. This is a change in policy that will have an impact on local businesses. As it stands now there is limited availability of transient dockage in Parry Sound and that was why the various levels of government made the investment in Big Sound Marina. Since it’s founding the marina has only provided transient slips. Now that the Town in on the hook, with the possibility of a net loss, they are requesting Council permit the renting of seasonal dockage. This likely will hurt local marinas. Let me explain. If you are a business with 110 slips you need to maintain the staff and resources to service this number of slips. Your property taxes and insurance costs are also fixed. You wouldn’t need to add more personnel if you had 105 or 110, and you probably couldn’t fire people if you had 90 or 95. Basically you have a fixed cost to service this number of slips. Now if you were to lose 5, 10 or 15 of these slip rentals you wouldn’t really be able to cut your costs by much, if anything. Try asking the town to reduce your taxes because you have less business. It doesn’t work that way, you are taxed on your ‘assets’ whether or not they are fully utilized. It’s the same with staff. So by proposing to put 25 slips up for seasonal rent at $1,800 per slip, the Town may be taking as much as $45,000 of profit, not just revenue, from local businesses. That $45,000 supports additional investment in equipment, offset losses or actually provide a larger profit for a year’s work. It’s like the Town is reaching into the pockets of local businesses to limit their costs. They are now proposing to let a private company benefit from an effectively ‘taxpayer supported’ operation. Not nice. I will probably make a deputation at the next meeting of Council regarding this proposal. The Town has itself in a tight spot with the Chamber of Commerce’s decision to no longer operate Big Sound Marina. Their apparent solution is to take business and profit from taxpaying businesses. I wonder if the Chamber wouldn’t have considered continuing their management of the marina had they been offered the possibility of an additional $45K. There would have been little or no incremental cost to capture that revenue. Let’s see what Council decides.]
9.5.1 – Tender, Hanging Baskets. Resolution. That Council accept the tender from Bala Garden Centre for 100 planted baskets in the amount of $88.00 per basket including pick-up of empty baskets and delivery of planted baskets and 20 new galvanized frame baskets in the amount of $27.99 each for a total of $10,576.57 including HST.
10.4.1 – Waterlot, Declaration of Surplus Lands. By-law. To declare a Town owned waterlot surplus. [This concerns a waterlot that is associated with the Parry Sound Hydro facility on Cascade Street and is a necessary part of the Parry Sound Hydro / Lakeland Power merger.]
10.4.2 – Stockey Centre Catering Service Agreement. By-law. To authorize the execution of an agreement with Now That’s Catering for the provision of catering services at the Stockey Centre. [A renewal of the existing agreement.]
10.4.3 – Artists Round the Sound Agreement. By-law. An agreement with the Artists Round the Sound (ARTS) for the rental of wall space at the Stockey Centre. [A renewal of the existing agreement.]
Delivering the Goods (Parry Sound in Black & White)
I will be attending this meeting and look forward to listening to the discussion concerning the issues I’ve commented on above. I’ll probably make a deputation on one of the issues. You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. I’ll be interested in seeing how far Staff and Council plan to reach into the pockets of the local marinas to help pay for their Big Sound challenge.
I hope we will see some new faces in the audience at Council meetings, perhaps those who are thinking about running for Council. You really can’t get a sense of what goes on by watching it on television, or reading about it in the newspaper (or online). If you want to be elected you owe it to the public to have some understanding of what you are taking responsibility for.
Note: Not all agenda items are covered here. I typically skip items that have little material impact on the town. These items include simple requests for Tag Days (permission to canvas), Awareness Weeks/Months, road closures for civic events, and the like. Want to see everything that is on the agenda along with the supporting documents? The full package can be found at the town’s website (http://townofparrysound.com/pagesmith/14).