Good news for those of you wanting to keep on top of what’s on the Town of Parry Sound council’s upcoming agenda; the agendas seem to be coming out on Thursday, rather than Friday. This provides people with an additional day to provide comments to Staff and Council on items on the agenda, or organize a deputation on an agenda item. But you need to be on the distribution list to get it delivered to your mailbox. Contact the Clerk at the Parry Sound Town Office to be included.
It seems to be business as usual with a hodge-podge of items on this week’s agenda. Among the more interesting items:
- There seem to be multiple parties interested in the Old Fire Hall (5.2).
- Activity seems to be developing activity with regard to having railways pay municipal taxes commensurate with their business activities and local community impact (8.4).
- Treetops is back on the agenda (6.1).
- Big Sound Marina operating agreement is up for renewal (10.1.1).
- 2017 Budget and associated rates and policies (10.4.1, 10.4.2, 10.4.3).
As always there is more on the agenda than is noted above and below. Comments on individual items are offered below (italics). Review the full agenda with the supporting documents for more information. You can try and find it one the Town’s website or you could get it directly through this link.
- c) a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land for municipal or local board purposes. (Property Matter)
- e) litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board. (Zoning By-law Amendment Appeal)
4.1 – Kevin Baker, Harold’s Barber Shop. Re: Concerns about the rates for his installed water meter.
Commercial water rates continue to be a source of confusion. It’s basically a cost of doing business, or living, in Parry Sound; an underappreciated tax of sorts. The alternative is to set up shop in Nobel or McKellar and see how that impacts the bottom line. Taxes there are lower and you get to provide your own water and sewer.
4.2 – Stephen P. Kaegi, CAO, The Township of The Archipelago. Re: Letter addressed to Transport Canada, Marine Office and copied to Mayor and Council. Questions about the proposed operational restrictions of the Wasauksing Swing Bridge.
A pressing issue that doesn’t directly impact Parry Sound, the proposed restrictions on the operation of the bridge will impact Wasauksing and our neighbouring municipalities. Who is responsible, and who is going to pay for a new bridge, the obvious solution to the issue? Perhaps our rich neighbours can find room in their budget for the improvement, but that would of course negatively impact their low, low tax strategy.
4.3 – John Maheu, M.A.Sc., P.Eng., Executive Director of the Association of Ontario Road Supervisors. Re: Congratulations to Peter Brown, Director of Public Works, for his recent Certified Road Supervisor certification.
Does this mean Mr. Brown is now qualified to be a flag person at a road construction job ;-)
5.1 – Brad Weiler, Community Recreation and Programs Coordinator. Re: Update to Council on Community Recreation Programing.
5.2 – Aleesha Mullen, Owner/Operator Parry Sound Bikes. Re: Review of her proposal submitted for the Old Fire Hall.
I suspect that this will be a more acceptable proposal, assuming the offer price for the property meets the Town’s expectations. It will cause less ‘after 6:00’ traffic in this semi-residential area which is a concern to local residents. Both this proposal, which I imagine is a bike shop, and Maurizio’s restaurant, are reasonable uses of the property. Let’s just make sure the building isn’t lost through neglect. What’s up for sale next? The CN Station? The Town really doesn’t have the resources or interest in fixing up and using, or renting out, either of these buildings.
5.3 – Debbie Hill, President of CUPE #2049. Re: Update to Council on the status of the CAS lock out of CUPE #2049.
8.3 – Funding Formula for Gas Tax, Resolution. Whereas the provincial gas tax funding formula has not received an increase in over 10 years, since 2006; and Whereas with the implementation of Cap and Trade January 1, 2017 it is more expensive for municipalities consuming the fuel; and Whereas the City of Owen Sound adopted a resolution to send a letter to the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, stipulating these facts and requesting that the formulas be revisited; Now, therefore be it resolved that the Council for the Town of Parry Sound supports the City of Owen Sound and will also send a letter to Minister of Transportation to request a review of the gas tax; and Further that this resolution be forwarded to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, Norm Miller, M.L.A. for Parry Sound-Muskoka and all Ontario municipalities.
8.4 – Property Taxation on Railways. Resolution. Whereas it has been identified that railway companies in the province of Ontario, do not pay a proportionate share of municipal property tax as compared to other properties in their class, or compared to any other municipal tax class; and Whereas in other provinces and jurisdictions the railway companies do remit a more equitable share of taxes to the local tax base; and Whereas taxes in other jurisdictions for railway properties are calculated using a tonmile concept; and Whereas said fees are reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis according to inflation and ongoing current conditions; and Whereas the Province of Ontario has continued to fall further and further behind in their approach to railroad property taxation over the past 112 plus years; Now, Therefore Be It Resolved That the Town of Parry Sound supports the Resolutions passed by Fort Frances, Atikokan and Marathon and calls upon the Minister of Finance for the Province of Ontario to implement a new system of municipal property taxation for railroad right-of-way properties based on utilizing a per ton-mile concept; and Further that this resolution be forwarded to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, Norm Miller, M.L.A. for Parry Sound-Muskoka and all Ontario municipalities.
Yup, the railways get a ‘free ride’ from the Feds and the Provinces at the expense of local municipalities. As the Province pulls back local funding, the Municipalities need to look for alternative sources of revenue. The highly profitable railways need to start paying their fair share.
8.6 – 2016 Integrity Commissioner Report. Resolution. Whereas the Council, Boards and Committees Code of Conduct stipulates that the Integrity Commissioner shall file his/her annual report regarding any activities to Council no later than March 31st of each year; and That should there be no complaints/investigations for the year, in this case, 2016, then the Clerk shall report to Council accordingly; Therefore, the Clerk reports that the former Integrity Commissioner, Suzanne Craig, and the current Integrity Commissioner, George Rust-D’Eye have reported that there were no formal complaints filed nor investigations conducted in the year 2016.
No hits, no runs and no complaints. Call it a win.
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.3.1 – Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act. Resolution. That Council for the Town of Parry Sound acknowledge receipt of the attached Report and Recommendation regarding changes to the Municipal Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by the introduction of Bill 68, Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act.
The closed session changes in this legislation really don’t do much to ensure additional transparency. The simple action of having a “closed meeting investigator” does not make me more comfortable. The investigator can only review what is officially recorded in the closed meeting minutes, which of course does not necessarily reflect all of the discussion. I don’t question the integrity of Council; I do question whether the Public gets the benefit of all discussion and concerns that may be expressed in closed sessions that should be shared in open sessions.
9.4.1 – Ontario Regulation 284/09. Resolution. That Council hereby adopts the compliance report for expenses excluded from the 2017 budget outlined in the staff report “Ontario Regulation 284/09”, attached as Schedule “A”, as a requirement of Ontario Regulation 284/09 passed under the Municipal Act, 2001.
9.4.2 – Vacancy Tax Rebate Review. Direction. That Staff initiate the required consultation process for the modification or elimination of the Vacancy Tax Rebate, as outlined by the Ministry of Finance (once available).
This is an interesting rebate program that provides commercial property owners with an effective 30% reduction in property taxes if the property is vacant. This can lead to landlords preferring to leave a property vacant rather than use it, or rent it out. Because of provincial legislation the Town has the opportunity to redefine its local policy in this regard. The Town intends to engage with the community to understand how Parry Sound should define it’s vacancy rate policy.
9.4.3 – Co-location of Lakeland Power Customer Service. Direction. That Staff work with Lakeland Power to develop a co-location agreement which includes the redesign of the front reception office and that staff attain the services of an appropriate consultant to advise on the redesign.
9.4.4 – 2017 Parry Sound Public Library Budget. Resolution. Whereas S.24(1) of the Libraries Act requires that the Parry Sound Public Library provide its annual budget to the Council of the Town of Parry Sound; And Whereas S.24 (2) of the Act provides Council the ability to approve, reject or amend the budget; Now Therefore be it resolved that the 2017 budget for the Parry Sound Public Library, attached as Schedule “A”, is approved.
9.6.1 Request for Donation to the Treetops Community Forest. Resolution. That Council hereby will provide a grant of $____________ to the Treetops Community Forest to be funded from the 2017 Budget; and That the direction passed January 10, 2017 be amended to include the above addition.
I recall that when the project was first brought before Council there was a ‘promise’ that the project would not require funding from the Town. Well here we are with an ask for $10K. It’s hard to oppose the ask, but somehow I feel as though we been ‘duped’. I’m sure there was never an intention to come back to Council for money, but that’s too often the case with poorly planned projects. Better to ask for funding and forgiveness after reality sets in.
10.1.1 – Extension of Agreement – Massasauga Management Co. Inc. – Big Sound Marina. By-law 2017 – 6704. Being a By-law to amend By-law No: 2014-6428, the operating agreement between Massasauga Management Co. Inc. and the Town of Parry Sound for operation of Big Sound Marina and the Town Dock, conditional on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada approving the operating agreement and the extension of a head lease between the Town and Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the completion of the divestiture process.
10.1.3 – Rezoning Application – Z/16/07 – 25 Mary Street – Old Fire Hall. By-law 2017 – 6706. Being a By-law to amend By-law No. 2004-4653 (The Zoning By-law), as amended, for 25 Mary Street (Old Fire Hall).
Staff recommends approval of the rezoning application.
10.4.1 – Tax Policies – Capping and New to Class / New Construction. By-law 2017 – 6707. Being a bylaw to specify our Tax Policies, including the claw back percentage, the capping threshold parameters, the minimum tax level for new to class / new construction and to exclude certain properties from the capping program for the year 2017.
10.4.2 – Tax Ratios for 2017. By-law 2017 – 6708. Being a by-law to set Tax Ratios for Municipal purposes for the year 2017.
Staff is recommending that the Town adopt the same ratios as last year with the understanding that while they seem to be in-line with other municipalities in Ontario they are outside the Province’s ‘range of fairness’.
10.4.3 – 2017 Budget. By-law 2017 – 6709. Being a By-law to Adopt the Operating and Capital Budget Estimates for the Year 2017.
No surprises here. I recommend reading the accompanying R&R in the Council Agenda Package to get a nice summary of the 2017 Budget and the factors that impact how it will play out for individual commercial and residential property owners.
10.4.4 – Scale of Cost for Property Tax Sale. By-law 2017 – 6710. Being a bylaw to establish a policy and scale of cost for the sale of land for tax arrears pursuant to Section 385 of the Municipal Act, 2001, c25.
This is an update to 1998 legislation and increases the fees payable to the Town.