By John Swartz
Orillia council met Friday afternoon and the top item on the agenda was whether a declaration of emergency should be authorized.
The meeting was held in council chambers with councillors Pat Hehn, Rob Kloostra, Tim Lauer and Jay Fallis participated by phone.
The fire department is the coordinating agency of Orillia’s emergency management program.
There are two parts of the core leadership – a Community Control Group (Orillia’s CAO, mayor, the fire chief (chair), OPP detachment commander, the directors of development services and transportation, parks, environmental services, human resources, and an emergency information officer (likely Jennifer Ruff) and administrative support) and an Emergency Support Group (OPC, OSMH CEO, medical officer of health (SMDHU), Simcoe County directors of paramedic service and social services, City solicitor, Orillia’s treasurer manager of property, manager of capital assets, public transit, chief building official, I.T. manager, and the Orillia Amateur Radio Club).
Fire Chief Brent Thomas outlined the criteria which have to be met to make such a declaration and some of the abilities to deal with the emergency it bestows. He told council most of the boxes on the list are already ticked. The authority to act could involve anything necessary up to requiring all to stay indoors (rather than urging or suggesting).
Almost all councillors were in favour of making such a declaration sooner than later. The province and county have already declared states of emergency. There was no motion and the discussion was mainly to gauge the consensus of council for the mayor to act when he feels its necessary.
The ability of councillors to participate in the meeting by phone Friday and at Wednesday’s meeting was only possible because of the province’s declaration, otherwise they would have had to be present in council chambers.
More information about Orillia’s emergency plan is here.
A second item on the agenda was a report from the treasurer, Jim Lang outlining some deferments and suspensions of fees. They are:
1. Establish an emergency fund of $100,000 to be distributed to critical lead service providers on an as needed basis, to be determined and administered through a review process of a review panel consisting of the Mayor/Councillor Lauer, CAO and City Treasurer;
2. Waiving of tax penalty through to June 30, 2020;
3. Waiving of Water & Sewer penalty through to June 30, 2020;
4. Waive transit fees through to April 30, 2020; Page 1 of 15 Page
5. Waive parking fees through to April 30, 2020;
6. Deferred implementation of the Municipal Accommodation Tax until September 1, 2020;
7. Defer the second annual intake deadline of the Downtown Community Improvement Plan from the last day of April, 2020 to the last day of June 2020.
The key piece of those measures is property owners will not incur additional financial penalties if they do not pay taxes until June 30.
Lang told council the city has $19 million in an operating bank account for expenses. The City also has a $10 million line of credit available. In the short term the City will be able to finance the issues and deferrals in his report.
This item passed unanimously with a recorded vote.