By John Swartz
Orillia council is having two meetings Monday. Both were postponed from March meeting dates. The agenda for the 6 p.m. committee meeting looks like any other agenda and only one item has a relationship to the current COVID-19 crisis.
Orchard Point residents should be thankful the City didn’t conduct the traffic study they’ve been advocating for years take place in March, or after Casino Rama closed for the virus season, or they might be waiting a longer time to get the traffic lights they want.
As it is, the study showed there is an issue, barely, and City staff are recommending the province, which has jurisdiction by virtue of Atherley Road also being Highway 12, allow the city to install traffic lights by 2026.
The report found of the 6 levels of delay for vehicles to enter Atherley Road traffic at the intersection (base of the eastern approach to the Atherley Bridge), projections to 2024 conditions will fit the second lowest band of 55 to 80 seconds between vehicles entering. For anyone who has used the intersection, getting into Atherley Road traffic with in that time frame would feel like winning the lottery.
The study was conducted on four dates Saturday, August 3 and Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Wednesday, August 21 and Saturday August 31. All dates measured morning rush, lunch and afternoon rush hour to 9 p.m. which is sensible. However, one could argue Thursday tourist traffic is much higher late afternoon/ early evening, and adding Casino Rama concert traffic to Friday’s tourist traffic even more.
Timing is everything. One could imagine different counts in June and July, fall, winter and spring test dates, and early week verses late week.
Just looking at eastbound traffic on Atherley, there is only a difference of 41 cars and trucks counted all day between the first two sample dates. Highest was Saturday at 7701. The traffic average every minute in the late afternoon/evening period is 15.5 cars (westbound, its another 21 cars every minute). It’s hard to imagine a break in traffic to get travelling toward town, which is what Orchard Point residents have been complaining about. The total traffic on August 21 was down by 200 vehicles to 7507. The Labour Day weekend total count, which traditionally has the least amount of summer activity with no major events happening in the immediate Orillia area, was down by 500 to 7208.
The study makes projections accounting for Orchard Point development projects in the works the City knows about, so there will be a higher volume of traffic from Orchard Point as those complete. The recommendation to council is to adjust the 10-year capital plan to include the cost of traffic lights and forward the study to the ministry of transportation.
Contracts To Be Awarded
The first of two on the agenda is to award a contract to Tatham Engineering Limited for a Water Master Plan update. Four companies responded to requests for proposals and all were over the previously budgeted amount of $150,000. Tatham’s price is $158,765 and with taxes, municipal staff time and contingency staff are recommending the budget be increased to $175,000 with funding from development charges and water/water water reserves. This is a scheduled 5-year update to the existing plan.
Staff are also recommending council approve a tender to Yorkton Contracting Ltd for $537,509 to repair the Rotary Aqua Theatre.
This is the second time the project to replace the concrete floor, steel structural beams, and roof, make repairs to walls and put in a new electrical service has been tendered. The bids, again, all came in higher than budgeted so staff are asked for a $55,000 increase.
Meeting Schedule Changes
The 2020 council meeting schedule needs to change to reflect cancelled meetings and there appears to be concession holding meetings by video conference may add time to the length of meetings, even though staff anticipate fewer agenda items.
The new schedule has both committee and regular meetings happening on the same day on April 20, May 4 and 25, June 15 and July 20. Meetings will start at 4 p.m. Council chambers will be closed to the public, but available live on Rogers TV. The recommendation also includes waiving two sections of council procedure, and designate the mayor as chair of all meetings (councillors traditionally rotate chairing committee meetings). Council can, if conditions warrant, return to the previous schedule, or make a new schedule beyond July.
Regular Council Meeting
Council’s regular meeting will follow the committee meeting. The first schedule adjusted meeting includes adopting the report from the committee meeting just held, which eliminates the standard one or two week time lag. There are no other items beyond the consent agenda and adopting some by-laws.
Of the three items on the consent agenda, the most important is a letter from the minister of municipal affairs and the solicitor general informing municipalities the province is changing regulations to allow by-law officers to have police powers to enforce emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. By-law officers will not have the power to arrest, but will be able to charge under the criminal code.
There are two by-laws to allow the City to execute agreements to receive money from the province. One is to receive $526,907 for Orillia’s share of the Gas Tax Program. The other is to receive up to $150,000 from the Province’s Municipal Modernization Program for an electronic content management review and business process optimization project.
UPDATE: Monday’s meeting time changed to 6 p.m. from 4 p.m. If adopted meetings through to July will be at 4 p.m.