By John Swartz
Monday night’s Orillia council committee meeting agenda is primarily made up of technical issues having more to do with maintaining the operation of the municipality, rather than advancing new issues or controversy.
However, a report from environmental services recommending the City join the Federation of Canadian Municipalities – Local Governments for Sustainability Partners for Climate Protection Program comes as the first administrative move to address issues (costs) associated with the effects of climate change.
Staff say joining the federation will give the City access to resources and program guides which will help develop a climate protection program. It is necessary in light of recent weather related issues, and in anticipation things aren’t going to get better for the foreseeable future.
The main concern is precipitation. We have had in recent years too much snow and/or rain all at once and more violent storms, which strain the resources and budgets of the City.
Staff say recent council support for the Sustainable Orillia initiative will be helpful to the department to engage the community and collect information, which could influence the development of a climate change action plan.
Parks and rec staff are asking council to approve submitting a letter of intent to bid for the 2023 Ontario 55+ Winter Games.
The senior games won’t be as lucrative for the City as the 2018 games ($170,000) or area businesses ($1.1 million) ((identified in the report as Youth Ontario Winter Games), but staff believes the best option to maintain winter tourism is to pursue the senior games.
The City is presently preparing for the 2020 winter games and staff does not believe it is realistic to expect the number of volunteers would be available for the same games in 2022 and beyond. They also note the province is more likely to spread the benefits to another community. For the same reason, volunteer fatigue, the imminent 2020 games precludes applying to host the 2021 55+ games, though an expression of interest was previously submitted.
Staff also point out Orillia doesn’t really need tourism help in the summer and the County Of Simcoe has a focus on promoting winter tourism as reasons for not recommending participation in the summer games for either the youth or senior games.
The Rest Of The Agenda
On the mundane part of the agenda, the planning department has an overview of the province’s Bill 88, a private member bill moved by MPP Doug Downey. The purpose of the bill is to address language and practice issues which have occurred over time relating to property severances and amalgamations. There are several decades-old archaic provisions that hinder smooth, less costly conveyances.
The Canadian Conservation Institute did a facility assessment of the Leacock Museum last fall and the report is on Monday’s agenda to be received as information. The recommendations to the City are having a water infiltration issue in the house fixed, reorganizing storage areas to better identify all the museum’s holding and make them accessible for use (both can be accomplished within current budgets, and to install a fire system in Swanmore Hall. The latter will have to become a budget item next year and beyond.
Staff are recommending council extend the trial period for keeping hens in back yards, without change, for another 4 years. A survey and comment exercise began early this year and revealed only one issue regarding the existing two year trial. Officially, there have been no complaints received at City Hall. Only four people took advantage of the program, and the report indicates some who might have weren’t inclined to because of regulations and costs involved.
Council is also considering adopting an asset management policy. Assessment management is an accounting process that does two things, keep track of physical assets own by the City (and their current value) and helps to forecast future expense for maintenance and replacement.
Council is also having a brief closed session meting t 6:30 p.m. to discuss board and committee appointments.