Council Preview

By John Swartz


Orillia council has a long day of meetings Monday. At 1 p.m., as usual with committee meeting days, council starts with a closed session to discuss reports regarding the Orillia Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiations and will review board and committee selections.

In the public portion, they have 8 items on the agenda. Four are in the consent agenda and will likely pass with little comment.

One of those items, a proposal to establish West Street from Colborne to James as the Foundry District, much in the same manner as the City created the Arts District downtown, with some exceptions.

While the Arts District designation came with a number of attachments meant to promote and sign it as a distinct part of the downtown, nothing has been done. The economic development department’s Foundry report indicates they have been working on ways to promote the new district for development.

Listed are some examples of what the department could be doing like creating public art displays, (such as examples they give from Toronto and Kitchener). They propose large sculptures with lighting, street signs and an artistic treatment when the road is being reconstructed, and street art.

A second option would be to forward the recommendations to the 2021 budget in order to create design policies for the Official Plan. Hiring consultants is estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000.

The remaining agenda items include a report from the environmental advisory committee discussing a replacement for the tree conservation by-law. A new tree preservation by-law includes changes amendments to the provinces municipal act require to, ‘protect and enhance the tree canopy and natural vegetation in the municipality.”

EAC found the City currently has 32% of its area under shade and more effort needs to be used to preserve that number because older trees will be removed for various reasons, safety being one, and they need to be replaced, but the new trees take decades to mature.

Strategic Plan

Jason Burgess of MNP consultants has been working on a strategic plan for council and administration. He will present the final report for council to adopt.

The plan outlines 6 themes (with objectives and goals) in key areas identified as:

  • Quality of Life
  • Healthy Environment
  • Vibrant Waterfront
  • Sustainable Growth
  • Heritage Core
  • Professional Progressive City

As happens with plans, vision and mission statements are devised, and in this case a motto:

Vision – Orillia is progressive and sustainable, offering an exceptional quality of life, vibrant culture, beautiful waterfronts and a compassionate, welcoming and inclusive community.

Mission – The City of Orillia’s mission is to enrich the quality of life for all members of this community by providing professional and progressive services and programs that foster health and wellness, protect the environment, embrace diversity, honour culture and actively explore opportunities for the future.

Motto – Proud, Progressive, Professional

Among the recommendations in a  great number of areas of municipal business, the words sell, privatize, outsource and rationalize (which usually means less staff and services) are used frequently. This applies to, among others, services like 911 and janitorial, and assets like the Leacock Museum, Orillia Public Library and green house operations.

The report is 169 pages and will likely take up the bulk of council’s meeting time.

A report about the Orillia Farmers’ Market recommends the current management committee be transformed from a market operating group to an advisory committee. The market manager would change reporting from the manager of special projects to the manager of tourism and decision making about the operation of the market would transfer from the committee to administration.

A second option for council is leave the committee as is and transfer the reporting structure of the market manager only.

Development services has a 175 page Multi-modal Transportation Master Plan to digest. The purpose of the plan is to tie together all forms of transportation planning.

At 6 p.m. the meeting mode shifts to the 2020 budget. There are 271 recommendations for spending allotments. The evening session begins on a happy note with the Orillia Santa Claus parade trophy presentation.

CORRECTION: This portion originally stated the meeting was Monday, when in fact it is Tuesday.

They start at 9 a.m. with a special council meeting with some portion in closed session to discuss the City’s organization review and pay equity. Three items are listed: the pay equity condition, Jason Burgess of MNP (who is also the consultant for the strategic review) will present the organization review study, and CAO Gayle Jackson has a report on the City’s organization structure and succession planning.


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