Well I guess it would have taken a little courage on the part of Council to have decided to move forward with Item 9.2.1 – Train Whistle Cessation within Parry Sound. It was so much easier to simply decide that whistle (air horn) cessation would create a safety issue and be too expensive.
At our home we are not particularly impacted by the air horns. But there are some folks who are literally blasted by it. With the decision to run trains in only one direction on each line some people are getting blasted twice as much as they were ten years ago. To the best of my knowledge only one of the Councillors lives anywhere close to where they might be subject to the impact of the air horns. The rest live far enough the way that it doesn’t directly impact their lives unless a resident complains. And most of senior staff, who make the recommendations, don’t even live in Parry Sound.
Somehow the Town can find almost a million dollars to buy property on Oastler Park drive for purposes that still haven’t been shared with taxpayers, and a couple hundred thousand to upgrade Big Sound Marina for the benefit of visitors, and $1.2 million on the Stockey Centre so that the facility can lose more than a quarter million dollars a year while mostly servicing tourists, yet air horn cessation is too big a cost. The Town knows how to debenture. This is an investment for the present and the future.
The issue of safety is being used as cover for a lack of courage. Who is at risk if the recommended changes were to be made? It would be people trespassing. So, we protect the people who ignore the law and punish others with the air horns. I sat on a Town rail safety committee about 5 years ago that made a number of recommendations on how to improve rail safety. It was received by Council and ignored except for the very obvious recommendation to install gates at all town rail crossings. That too was met with skepticism by some members of staff. Don’t tell me we really care about rail safety, it’s all about CYA.
The suggestion to do a study about the squealing of the trains is misdirection and a waste of money. The noise pollution caused by the wheels squealing is as bad as the air horns. The railways know how to fix the problem, but they don’t because it is an expense and their only responsibility is to literally keep the trains on the tracks and return an ever-larger profit to shareholders. Employees can die through safety and equipment failures, and whole towns can be destroyed, but there are never any real consequences or changes in railway operating practices. Blame the victims and worry about the next quarter’s financials. You can go online and find lots of information on wheel squeal abatement. The reason I call the Council suggested initiative bogus is that while you can spend more money, do the study, and come up with a recommendation, the railways will just ignore it. And they will probably charge you to even read the recommendation that they will dismiss. Let’s remember the few occasions the Town has asked the railways for even minor concessions, sometimes for just a day, and were flatly rejected. They don’t even reliably address rail stoppages on crossings. A solution to wheel noise is not within the control of the Town. Air horns are in our control. Council has decided to punt. That’s not a strategy for winning.
Yes, it’s hard to be courageous. But that’s what defines the character of an individual, a company, a team, a council and even a town.
The members of Council are tasked with making tough decisions, not deflecting them.
The video of the Council discussion is available at this URL (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTu1fXRAPPo). The discussion starts at 1:06:55.
A few comments on the discussion:
- They are air horns. That’s not what “some people call them”. Here is the Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_horn
- Sound changes reported as decibels are not measured in percentages. The decibel scale is logarithmic. If an air horn is required to be 100 dB and the actual is 110 dB the power ratio difference is not 10% greater, it’s 900% greater, and the amplitude ratio is 300% greater. According to psychoacoustics 10 dB is sensed as twice the volume. A 10 dB reduction then would be half the perceived volume. How you present data in unfamiliar units can have a major impact on how it is understood and processed. Does it help you if I tell you the temperature in degrees Kelvin? Can you make a decision on how to dress if I told you tomorrow it will be about 298 degrees Kelvin? Sounds hot doesn’t it?
- A simple question. If safety is an issue why don’t trains blast their air horns every quarter mile or so even when they aren’t in the presence of a crossing? I would be interested in knowing how many of the fatalities in Ontario occurred in areas where there has never been an obligation to use an air horn, for example between rail crossings in rural areas. People don’t just trespass in towns and cities.
Enough on that. For now, at least.
No, wait. Why bother with this? If it’s been this way for almost 100 years, why make changes? The future of the Town depends on these incremental improvements to compete and prosper. What kind of development are we seeing close to tracks and crossings? What kind of development are we seeing distant from the train? Are investors going to look at rehabilitating the downtown with the train noises and increasingly common air horns? Is that why the south end is so attractive?
Mayor McGarvey presented Fire Chief Dave Thompson with the Governor General’s Fire Services Exemplary Services Medal, in recognition of 20 years of service to public safety in Canada.
Disclosure of Pecuniary Interest and the General Nature Thereof
1.4.1 – Councillor Backman declared pecuniary interest on item 9.3.1 as she received remuneration from a vendor. Councillor Backman left the room, did not participate in discussion, nor vote on the matter.
Questions of Staff
3.2.1 – In response to Councillor Backman’s request for an update on the Strategic Plan, CAO Clayton Harris reported that currently, staff down to the Manager level are looking at the previously adopted strategic plan to build buy-in support and identify changes thought necessary from a staff perspective.
That a special meeting of Council be scheduled in September to review the Strategic Plan and that a public meeting be scheduled thereafter. Carried
3.2.2 – In response to Councillor Borneman’s inquiry regarding the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building condition, Director of Development and Protective Services noted the owner has responded to an order to install fencing, but that an order requiring an engineering report on the stability of the building is still outstanding.
3.2.3 – In response to Councillor Borneman’s inquiry as to whether there was a traffic control plan for Isabella at William Street subsequent to completion of construction projects there, Director of Public Works Peter Brown reported that there is no set traffic control design for that location with options under consideration including a lit crossing, road painting and/or a 3-way stop.
That the Director of Public Works be directed to bring a report and recommendation to the next Council meeting on recommended options for traffic control at the Isabella/William Street intersection. Carried
3.2.4 – In response to Mayor McGarvey’s inquiry as to the status of the 4-way stop on reported that the 4-way stop is awaiting for school to finish, and that with significant planned advance warning, the hope is to have the lines painted in early July, followed by implementation of the 4-way stop. Mr. Brown also reported that line painting throughout the Town would commence when it stops raining and the ambient temperature is sufficiently high for a sustained period.
3.2.5 – In response to Councillor Keith’s inquiry regarding crossing safety from Avenue Road left onto Waubeek Street, Mr. Brown reported that he expected the planned realignment as part of the road reconstruction would make it safer. He also reported that slowing down is essential and that additional line painting and new 3-dimensional type crosswalks could be considered as long as compliant with transportation regulations.
3.2.6 – In response to Councillor McCann’s inquiry regarding the potential for installing a crosswalk on Waubeek at the trestle, Mr. Brown reported that there may be a problem with sightlines, however he would look into the matter and report back to Council.
4.1 – Jim & Marian Ferris, 143a William Street. Location suggestions for Georgian Nordic Ski and Canoe Club structures and programming currently operating at William Street Park. Item referred to the Manager of Parks & Recreation who has responded to Mr. & Mrs. Ferris, with a copy to Mayor & Council.
5.1 – Ian Fleming, President; Dan DiNicolo, Member, Festival of the Sound Board. Festival of the Sound’s Upcoming 40th Anniversary Season. Dan DiNicolo presented Council with the core goals of Festival of the Sound (FoTS), highlights of the past forty years, new and special events this year, and an overview of the economic impact of the FoTS. In conclusion Mr. DiNicolo invited members of Council and the public to “Come to the Party”, this being the 40th anniversary of the Festival of the Sound.
5.2 – Russell Becker, Community Relations Director, The Gardens. The Gardens – Expansion. Russell Becker addressed Council with appreciation for the Town’s original acceptance of the proposal submitted on behalf of The Gardens for a retirement home in Parry Sound. Mr. Becker noted that 70 suites were created, and that their success has prompted expansion by another 37 suites, including one-bedroom, one-bedroom with balcony, and two-bedroom at 1,000 square foot options ready for occupancy on July 1st. Mr. Becker reported that an information session on the expansion would be held on-site on Monday June 24th at 6:30 P.M. and that an open house would be held August 4th, time to be determined.
8.1 – Resolution 2019 – 066. Be it resolved that the Town of Parry Sound supports the national recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, by declaring June 21st as Indigenous Peoples Day in the Town of Parry Sound. Carried
Resolutions and Direction to Staff
9.1.1 – 2018 Annual Investment Report. Resolution. That Council accepts the 2018 Annual Investment Report in accordance with the Town’s Investment Policy. Carried
9.2.1 – Train Whistle Cessation within Parry Sound. Direction (For Direct Staff Follow-up). That Council direct staff to not proceed any further with train whistle cessation in Parry Sound due to the risks to public safety and potential Town liability, as well as overburdening costs of implementing train whistle cessation. Carried
The following additional direction for Direct Staff Follow-up was proposed: That Staff be directed to continue its efforts to have the railway take steps needed to minimize screeching of rails, which is a longer, more piercing noise than the train whistles; and That budget monies be included in 2020 to undertake professional noise studies in order to support the advocacy of minimizing screeching of rails. Carried
9.2.2 – Tender – Equipment – 4-wheel drive articulating loader. Resolution. That Council accept the tender from Toromont Cat for a 2019 CAT 918M loader in the amount of $171,195.00, including taxes, delivery, and the trade-in of a 2009 CASE 521 E, this tender being the lowest of four received; and That Council also accept the tender from Toromont Cat for a weigh scale attachment in the amount of $11,650.30, including taxes and delivery; and That additional funds required to purchase said equipment be taken from the Public Works culvert replacement capital project. Carried
9.3.1 – Pick-up truck Replacement (Fire Department). Resolution. That Council for the Town of Parry Sound award the tender for a 2019 New Model 4X4 1/2 ton Pick up Crew Cab Short Box for the Fire Department to Williamson Chrysler/UBIC Vehicle Solutions Inc. in the amount of $45,263.28 including HST; And further that the offering of $12,600 for the purchase of the replaced 2007 GMC by Gore Bay Gordon Barry Island Fire Department be accepted. Carried
9.4.1 – WPS Geography Network wins MISA Award. Presentation of award-winning West Parry Sound Geography Network web-based GIS application /portal. Direction. That the report and presentation be received for information purposes. Carried
9.4.2 – Join the FCM – ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) Partners for Climate Protection Program. Resolution. That Council hereby adopts the resolution attached as Schedule A, being a resolution prepared by FCM–ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) Partners for Climate Protection Program to:
endorse the Government of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and commit to reviewing the guidelines on PCP member benefits and responsibilities and then communicate to FCM its participation in the PCP program and its commitment to achieving the milestones set out in the PCP five-milestone framework; and further That Council hereby appoints Forrest Pengra to oversee implementation of the PCP milestones and be the point of contact for the PCP within the municipality. Carried
10.1.1 – By-law to specify claw back percentages for 2019 property taxes. By-law 2019 – 6934. Being a By-law to Specify the “Claw-back Percentages” in Respect of Properties in theCommercial Class for 2019 Taxation Year. Passed, Signed and Sealed.
10.1.2 – Strategic Asset Management Policy and regulatory changes. By-law 2019 – 6935. Being a By-law to approve the Strategic Asset Management Policy for the Corporation of the Town of Parry Sound. Passed, Signed and Sealed.
10.2.1 – StreetScan Agreement for Road Assessment Service. By-law 2019 – 6936. Being a by-law to execute an agreement with StreetScan Canada ULC for a Road Assessment Service. Passed, Signed and Sealed.
10.3.1 – Building Permit By-law amendment to include Alternative Solution proposals and fees. By-law 2019 – 6937. Being a By-law to amend the Building Permit By-law to establish a process for evaluation of Alternative Solution proposals; and amend the Fees By-law to set fees. Passed, Signed and Sealed.
10.4.1 – MOU – YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka for drop-in recreational programs. By-law 2019 – 6938. Being a bylaw to authorize the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding with Simcoe/Muskoka YMCA for delivery of drop-in recreation programming at the YMCA of Parry Sound. Passed, Signed and Sealed.
The Mayor announced a 5-minute recess and adjourned to a closed meeting at 9 PM in order to attend to unfinished items from the Closed Agenda. Upon the conclusion of dealing with matters in Closed Meeting, Mayor McGarvey reconvened in Open Meeting at 9:30 P.M.