Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia’s award winning recycling program is coming to an end. There will still be blue box pickups, but beginning in 2023 producers of recyclable waste will take over and be paying the full freight of getting rid of it.

Currently Stewardship Ontario pays municipalities 50% of their recyclable collection costs. They run two years behind so the expected $347,247 the City will get this year is for 2018. Because the new waste contract went up dramatically over previous contracts, the City estimates the 2024 payment will be $561,900.

If things go as planned, the City will be out of the recycling business in 2024 and will save $1.1 million on the waste contract as well.

Monday afternoon’s 4 p.m. committee agenda has a boilerplate motion supplied to all municipalities by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario which will put council on record selecting January 1, 2024 as the date the new industry funded collection should start.

The province announced last year the new program would start in 2023 and rather than go all-in across the province, designed a two year range for municipalities to switch over.

It is possible the Blue Box collection will be taken over entirely by another company (Mid Ontario Disposal is the contractor now), but the motion also indicates the City is interested in keeping the current system in place beyond 2024 – with “mutually agreeable commercial terms,” which should mean full re-imbursement  of collection costs.

Get the Truck Out Of Here

Proof writing a letter can move a mountain, or trucks in this case, is in a report from development services recommending council amend a by-law to allow heavy trucks to use West Street between Coldwater and Fittons Roads.

Wayne Scanlon wrote last November asking for the change because he observed trucks are using Peter Street as a bypass. He also said the reason for the original, decades old restriction does not exist any longer; new trucks have more efficient and powerful engines and don’t have to crawl like snails up the hill. He also points out, Peter is a residential street and there are several truck delaying factors which don’t give that route any advantage to trucks.

Setting Up Shop

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is reviewing three applications for pot shops in Orillia – two downtown at 69 and 81 Mississaga Street East, and one in the West Ridge at 30 Diana Drive.

Staff have a report recommending some changes to the City’s current by-law. When originally drafted, prohibition for locating a cannabis retail store included within 150 meters of a list of places, which included schools, parks and etc. It did not define how to make the measurement, which could lead to issues when a retail store is not the only occupant of a building. The report also adds “or ancillary” to a paragraph relating to properties not zoned for retail in order to be in line with the zoning by-law. It also asks to remove City owned trails from the list of places shops cannot be close to because many other municipalities don’t have the requirement.


The community services department has a report asking for the inclusion of religious services be added to the list of permitted uses of City parks. They have not been allowed for over 30 years.

Despite this, one church has been allowed to hold Easter Sunday service in Couchiching Beach Park for several years. The justification is it was early in the morning before other park users would be likely to be around. However, another church is requesting to use Couchiching Beach Park for a three day festival this summer where a large number of people are expected to attend and staff is denying the permit based on current policy.

Staff are anticipating there will be other requests in light of physical distancing restrictions which may be easier to deal with outdoors.

The new policy sets out criteria for issuing a permit for religious purposes: limited to 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. 7 days a week all year, only two events per year, no amplification, parks remain open to others, no collections allowed, all other policies for booking parks apply.

Aqua Theatre Renovation
Rotary Aqua Theater

Community Services wants council to award the tender for repairs to the Rotary Aqua Theater to Yorkton Contracting Ltd. for $537,509. That is $55,000 above budget, so a budget increase is also asked for.

The project only attracted 2 bidders in 2018, and the lowest was $146,000 over budget. Council approved a $200,000 increase for 2020 and re-tendered with 7 bidders this time.

Consultants, temporary work and soil testing have already been expensed from the previous $545,000 budget. Work to be done includes new concrete flooring, replacing doors, repairing walls and painting, replacing steel beams, new electrical service, and a new roof.

2020 Cultural Grants

The City approved $241,000 to festivals events and cultural institutions for 2020 and has already sent cheques totaling $31,000. Obviously things have changed for all of the groups on the receiving end.

Staff want council to have each group report how they are using (or intend to use) their grants in the current context and provide a final report outlining how COVID-19 affected their organizations. Staff also want council to stick to original amounts requested, and should more be authorized those amounts would be subtracted from 2021 requests. Furthermore if an organization has no expenses because of cancellation, no grant is forwarded, and if any money has been already it be returned.

This particularly affects the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Orillia Museum of Art and History and Streets Alive because they are the recipients of the largest grants, but all grant recipients are being treated the same.

Essentially what staff’s recommendation is allows for the normal flow of grant funding in 2020 – provided recipient groups can show the money was used and still had to be used even with cancellations and door closings. Many of the our local cultural groups have ongoing expenses which occur regardless of holding events, their position is without revenue from those events they will end up in debt because of ongoing expenses and a few have indicated they may not be able to continue next year.

A second option is offered for council to reduce the overall grants budget and to cut funding to Mariposa and OMAH by 50%. There is also a third option to eliminate all cultural grants for 2020 and require reimbursement of money already awarded.

Regular Council Meeting

Following the committee meeting the regular council meeting will happen. This may turn out to be the shortest regular council meeting ever with no new items on the agenda. Regular meetings formalize committee decisions and since council will have just debated all of the above, those should pass quickly. The consent agenda items are routine and slated to be forwarded to appropriate departments. Tucked away in the by-law section of the agenda – you will be able to pay for your dog licenses online.

The meeting can be watched on Rogers TV.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


Support Independent Journalism