Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets Monday evening for its regular session at 6 p.m., preceded by public planning meeting. The planning meeting is to move along a proposal by Sophie’s Landing Development Corp to build 21 condos on Orchard Point Road.

This involves approval of zoning amendments, a draft plan of subdivision and approval of what has become a contentious development strategy here in Orillia – a draft plan of common element condominium..

When the regular meeting starts, the first order of business is to award the Citizen of the Year honor. Fifteen people were nominated, with 5 on a shortlist for consideration.

Following the honour ceremony, council has what appears to be a light agenda with passages of minute and only three routine  orders of business involving a previously discussed zoning amendment, approval of grant to community festivals and the report from last week’s committee meeting.

In the later, of note, is an item emanating from a closed session meeting to approve moving ahead to acquire land in the West Ridge in order the City can construct a road and service municipal industrial/commercial land. The motion attaches an expenditure of, “$148,900 be allocated from the Land Acquisition Reserve for the due diligence, appraisal, surveying and acquisition of the subject property.”

Consent Agenda Items

As per usual, the interesting information is in the consent agenda. Items in the consent agenda are often referred to appropriate departments and normally generate reports at a later date. The provincial minister of municipal affairs and housing wrote all councils informing them changes to the Development Charges Act came into effect January 1.

Developers will have development charge rates frozen at the level they were at the time of filing first zoning amendment or site plan requests for two years, instead of municipalities applying the rate at time of approval. Developers will also not have to pay development charges for affordable housing until occupancy occurs.

The province is hoping this will encourage developers to construct affordable housing rather than relying on the time honoured approach of people moving up from rental and starter home housing. It seems to recognize, as people flock to larger urban centers there is a critical lack of affordable rental housing and starter homes (where in Toronto for example, the average home is selling for $800,000).

Joe Winacott, the owner of Studabakers Beachside restaurant on Mississaga Street (by the legion), is wrote council to outline an issue many other downtown restaurants and nightspots have been complaining about – the lack of public forms of transportation in the evening.

He outlines many patrons faced with long wait times for taxis and no rideshare companies like Uber to pick up the slack (let alone later hours for Orillia Transit) are leaving patrons with a choice of driving home after drinking (The City has a no overnight parking by-law in effect during the winter), of staying home.

Winacott says the casino attracts most of the taxi business, and by way of conducting his own investigation, it taking 1 ½ hours for patrons to get home from the time of deciding to end a night is killing business because people ar choosing not to go out at all.

He said he has spoken with other venue owners and they are experiencing similar things. He would like the City to look into this matter highlighting overnight parking and ridesharing options as key elements to be solved.

Another consent item, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is writing all councils to take some action regarding blue box recycling. The province has mandated producer industries take over full funding and operation of collection. Orillia now receives partial funding from Stewardship Ontario (industry consortium) for its recycling costs.

The province intends to transition municipalities to the new program over a two year period starting January 2023, with the idea of not loading all the costs and change on all municipalities at the same time. The province has not indicated exactly how they will decide which and how many municipalities go first. The AMO sees problems ahead and wants each municipality to pass resolutions stating their preference and to forward the outcome to the province. The AMO believes this will be the best indicator for the province of how and to which municipalities to roll out the changes.

From the it’s nice to be in the banking and payment processing business file, a by-law authorizing an agreement with Moneris Solutions Corporation to enable the ability for people to use debit cards with two new pay and display machines at the Colborne Street Parking lot is on the agenda.  Apparently, the technology to accept debit cards along with either cash or credit card payments, is an add on. The machines in question are replacements for existing machines and a staff report stated using debit cards was not an available option with the City’s prior pay and display machine purchases. The City also to set up a separate account with Moneris in addition to the account they already have.


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