By John Swartz
Monday evening’s regular council meeting night at 7 p.m. is preceded by a public planning meeting at 6.
A zoning amendment to change a 2 unit dwelling at the corner of Westmount and Grenville Avenues into 4 units will be discussed. A second item has 35 amendments to the zoning by-law staff consider to be housekeeping in nature; some definitions require changing because of provincial changes since the last zoning by-law was enacted, others required change to clarify requirements.
When the regular meeting gets underway, council will get down to business because there are no deputations or presentations. The report from last week’s committee meeting has 2 additional letters objecting to the decision to disband the common elements condominium working group. Condo owners are not happy they are getting taxed the same as other homeowners, but not receiving municipal services in the same manner.
When council gets to the notice of motion portion of the meeting they will go into closed session to discuss waiving the City’s policy for trail dedications. There is no accompanying report giving a hint what that is about.
Don’t Look Now
A second item in this section is from mayor Steve Clarke to have a crime prevention and detection program costing $150,000 referred to the 2020 budget.
In his report it is noted the video camera system in the downtown at West and Mississaga Streets has been failing and is reaching the end of its life. It will cost $20,000 to remove the equipment. Furthermore when the new OPP station is opened there will not be room for monitoring gear the OPP say.
While such systems not known to prevent crime, the system in Orillia has been used by OPP on average 10 to 15 times annually to review a list of occurrences ranging from assaults to accidents. Clarke is proposing council could reinvest in a new system (the original installed in 2013 cost $120,000 and $20,000 annually to operate), set up a program for businesses and homeowners to register any cameras they have the OPP could use to review video, or offer a grant program to property owners to buy camera systems and register them for access by OPP when needed.
The consent agenda has a number of items worth noting. The province wrote to municipalities to tell them of the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure programs green grants. Municipalities have until Jan. 22 to submit applications for projects focused on health and safety. The province is advising the City the cap for the provincial share is $2 million.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit wrote all municipalities regarding their budget requests for 2020 – they are going up, substantially. The SMDHU says Ontario’s minister of health, Christine Elliot, told health units Christine Elliot, the province will be providing one time mitigation funding to assist the transition, indicating that she expects “that all municipalities will be protected from any cost increases resulting from this cost-sharing change that exceed 10% of their existing costs”. Naturally, the SMDHU is working on a new budget with 10% increases. This means the City will be paying $436,614 in 2020 compared to $396,910 I 2019.
On the bright side, the City is getting a rebate cheque of $10,625 from the Local Authority Services Natural Gas Program. The City participates in a co-operative through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for buying natural gas at set rates. The cheque represents savings from the 2017 -2018 program year.
As renovations to downtown buildings increase the stock of apartments, parking is becoming an issue and property owners are indicating it hard to attract tenants. The Downtown Orillia Management Board is asking the City for permission to investigate solutions for permit parking, presumably in City owned parking lots.