By John Swartz
Orillia council has its July regular council meeting Thursday evening. A report form the common elements condominium working group is asking for council to expand the mandate of the group. It was formed to address what many condo owners view as unfair taxation in light of not receiving the same levels of service (snow plowing and road repair for example) as other property owners.
The working group wants to expand the scope of investigation to include areas outlined in a deputation Scott Maclagan gave to council last October. They want to be able to assess the logistics of the City assuming responsibility for infrastructure condo owners presently own as a condition of buying into a condo community.
The group also wants to be able to investigate how common element infrastructure is designed and built, how the documents are turned over to condo boards, and how prospective buyers are informed of what they are buying.
Three delayed action motions are back on council’s agenda. One concerning the request form the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit for additional funding for, among other things, policing of no smoking by-laws as they pertain to the legalization of marijuana. Staff is still recommending council not approve the $$25,501 request.
Adopting a municipal accommodation tax is returning. Action was delayed pending results of a meeting of the Ontario’s Lake Country board. Lake Country would be the tax collector and manager of disbursement of funds according to a 50/50 split of revenue between the City and the accommodation industry for marketing purposes.
A motion to receive as information a report on cross connection and back flow prevention for the City’s sewer systems is retuning as well.
Councillor Tim Lauer has a new motion to reconsider a budget item relating to funding for Information Orillia. Previously the Info Orillia grant was tied to the group getting an agreement with the Orillia Community Action network and the Sunshine Initiative, both of which Info Orillia provides some logistical and administrative support to. This affected the release of approved budget money to Info Orillia.
Lauer wants to take out the requirement for a formal agreement since both OCAN and the Sunshine Initiative are not formally organized groups and have no authority to make binding agreements. He would replace the requirement with a simple statement Info Orillia continue to support both groups for the remainder of 2019.
The consent agenda has a couple items of interest. A letter from the province’s attorney general, Doug Downey, asks for help on municipal insurance issues, specifically the joint and several liability coverage municipalities carry.
Municipalities are anxious because of a court ruling that could force municipalities to be the major payees of restitution, even if they played a minor role. For example, if a judge held a city 1 percent at fault as a co-defendant in a suit and the other co-defendant had no insurance, or not enough, the city would be liable for the damages.
Downey wants answer to three broad questions regarding how municipalities view the issue, what kind of evidence is there to support those views, and what do municipalities think is the solution. An insurance industry consultation began in March.
The situation, in the extreme, could lead municipalities to ban a host of everyday activities that take place on municipal properties, cost unreasonable amounts of money to design out all risks from projects, and in short force rubber bumpers be installed on rubber bumpers for fear of be called out as not doing enough to prevent injury. Insurance premiums have risen sharply in the last few years because of how the assessment of liability changed.
A letter from Konrad Sioui of the Huron/Wendat Nation expresses displeasure at council’s recent resolution supporting the return of the Champlain Monument.
“I would like to remind you that, last March, the letter I sent you stated that “The Huron-Wendat Nation does not support the re-installment of Parks Canada’s offensive and degrading monument in Orillia ‘s Couchiching Beach Park. Not only would such an action undermine and challenge reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples, but it would also perpetuate a disgraceful perception of our Peoples as being submissive, subservient and obedient to the French Crown and considered an inferior class of citizens,”” Sioui states.
“… the only Indigenous group affected by the monument is the HuronWendat Nation, since the statue specifically portrays our ancestors,” it continues. It is well known the people who modeled for the Native figures were from Rama.
One item in the by-laws section of the agenda is a milestone for the City. It establishes the creation of the Orillia Sunshine Youth Senate as a committee of council. The senate will eventually take over the role of being an advisory body for the Orillia Youth Centre.