By John Swartz
Orillia councillors set themselves a hectic January with their regular business and budget meetings crammed into three weeks. Since last Monday they have met twice, a day/evening long affair on one occasion and a full afternoon on another. This Monday they will start at 4:15 p.m. with a series of meetings on building by-law and planning meetings before the 7 p.m. start of their regular council meeting. They have two full days this week, Wednesday and Thursday, for budget meetings as well. We’ll begin this preview of Monday’s business at the beginning.
Council will hear from development services on a proposal to increase user fees. Municipalities are allowed to set rates only so high as to not exceed the cost of running building fee functions. Those include reviewing applications, issuing permits and inspections. Budgets are set according to expectations and the service often runs into deficit by $100,000 or more, though 2018 was a banner year with a $142, 243 surplus, which will be going into reserves.
Orillia’s fees are generally lower than surrounding townships, and on average middle of the pack compared across Simcoe County. Increases for all permits or the department are 1.5 %, which represents an overall projection of $12,731.
Their next meeting starting at 4:30 p.m. is to consider Official Plan and zoning by-law amendments for a new car dealership (Orillia Volkswagen) on the southeast corner of West and Bond streets. It is currently undeveloped and the dealership will take up 55% of the almost 5 acre property. The Official Plan currently does not permit an auto dealership and zoning provisions were not designed with that in mind. Two public meetings have been held already.
At 5:30 p.m. Official Plan, zoning by-law amendments and draft plan of approval for the controversial Common Elements Condominium type of townhouse development will be considered for phase 3 of the North Lake development (Laclie and Highway 11).
The developer originally proposed a 120 unit apartment building, but is asking for a change to build 22 townhouses. A fourth phase for the property closest to the Lacie and Sundial Drive intersection is not being considered, even though the documents show the addresses 400 Lucy Lane and 600 Laclie Street.
This is an intermediate step and developers have a number of conditions to satisfy before final approval. A concern of phase 1 and 2 residents is the lack of an exit from the development to Huronia Road for emergency purposes. The ministry of transportation and Severn Township owns lands such a road would have to cross.
Regular Meeting @ 7 pm
When the regular meeting starts at 7 p.m., the first order of business will be to award the 2018 Citizen of the Year. There are 13 nominees (2 are a joint submission). The nominees are Jeremy Clark, Noel Cooper and Patricia Beecham-Cooper, Laura Dickson, Ted Dongelmans, Kevin Gangloff, Michael Gordon, Jaimin Mahant, Sue Morris, Steve Orr, Elvis Ouimette and Eleanor Tinney.
Council will then hear 2 deputations, one from Dr. Josiah Lowry and Dr. Erika Catford making a pitch for funding for the Mariposa House Hospice, the other from Chris Peacock, Norm Sinclair and Dr. Matt Miller of the Sharing Place Food Bank to pitch for funding for renovations to the new facility and to expand programming.
Mariposa House launched a $3.5 million campaign in 2017 to build a 5 bed residential facility on Brodie Drive. To date they have raised $2.2 million in private donations, $300,000 from the County and $1 million from the ministry of health. Construction will start in April. They estimate operating costs will be $1 million annually. The LHIN will only fund $525,000 annually for operating costs. They are asking the City to commit $150,000 annually toward capital and operating costs. They have several other fundraisers planned or underway.
The Sharing Place now serves 1,300 monthly at the food bank and 4, 932 kids in school programs. They have received an offer to buy property at 95 Dufferin Street at below market value. While they raise funds the deal requires them to occupy space next door at 97 Dufferin. The cost to buy and renovate the new facility is $1 million, and they have raised $25,000 so far. They have grants and donations pending of $127,500. They are asking the City to invest $150,000 in the project.
Last week’s committee meeting report contains some details of closed session items. The preparation for sale of 70 Front Street South requires $7,500 for the plan, and $390,000 for legal and consulting work. Also the acquisition of a piece of property, which has not been identified, the City will use for a road and servicing opportunity will get $5,000 for legal costs.
The notable item from last week’s committee report is the ban on smoking on all City property, and the accompanying by-law. Council is doing this in order to limit places marijuana can be used (despite no observable evidence anything has changed since last October when marijuana was legalized) and cigarettes are the vehicle to do so. This comes with a $36,000 cost to hire a part-time by-law officer and post signs. For SUNonline’s position see https://www.facebook.com/SUNonlineOrillia/posts/2494411310785706?__tn__=K-R
Mayor Steve Clarke has a notice of motion to waive a clause of the grants committee code which denies grants to other government agencies so a grant of $1,240 can be made to the Simcoe Elementary Athletic Council to cover the rental cost of Rotary Place for a wrestling tournament. The grant itself will still have to be approved by 2019 budget committee. Council has done this in each of the past 3 years.
In the consent agenda is a letter from the LAS Natural Gas Program. It’s a co-operative, of sorts, for municipalities to pool natural gas purchases in quantities that allow stabilized rates on an annual basis. Generally rates for consumers are adjusted quarterly. Any difference to rates charged and consumption are settled later. The City will get a rebate of $8,764.05 for the 2016 – 2017 period.
The Downtown Orillia Management Board is recommending to council their choices for representation on two City committees – Tyler Knight to the farmers’ market management committee and Daniel Saberi to the transit committee. The DOMB is also asking council to amend requirements for merchants to clear snow from sidewalks by 8:30 a.m. Some do not open until later in the morning and the DOMB says 10 a.m. is better. They also want an exemption to clear snow for amounts less than 3 centimeters accumulation.
UPDATE: Jaimin Mahant’s name was spelled incorrectly on material supplied to SUNonline.
(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)