By John Swartz
Orillia council meets in committee Monday at 4 p.m. They will have a closed session prior to discuss disposition of lands in the Horne Business Park.
Their first order of business is to deal with a new tree preservation by-law. This item was on a December agenda, but was deferred because it was felt it would take a lot of time in a meeting which already had a number of time consuming items.
If adopted, it will replace the current tree by-law. What is different is a change in the by-law being applicable to trees greater than 25 cm, or 10 inches. Previously it applied to trees greater than 50 mm (5 Inches).
The second option presented to council is a by-law removing a stipulation it applies to properties larger than .5 hectares; it will then apply to all properties. Additionally, the old by-law did not require replacing removed trees while the new one requires replacement on the subject property, or paying for a tree to be planted elsewhere as the city directs.
The new by-law also tightens qualifications the City will accept from anyone acting as an arborist.
Change usually brings along new fees and this is the case here. Currently there is no fee to apply for removal of a tree, it will be $250 if council adopts the by-law. Penalties are proposed to increase to a maximum $10,000, or $1,000 per tree to the maximum. A second offence will be $25,000 and $2,000 respectively. That’s if a summons requiring a court appearance is chosen, otherwise a set fine of $400 applies.
If adopted a survey will be conducted by the environmental advisory committee first to get input on the permit fee and tree replacement (which if not on the affected property is $350 per tree to a maximum $35,000). So while council may vote to go this route now, the by-law would not be back on the agenda until EAC’s report is in hand.
Staff’s preferred option is to just make some changes to leave most current provisions in place, but adopt the financial aspects and leave properties under .5 hectares exempt and the same for trees less than 50 mm.
Where this would have the most effect is issuing building permits. Staff anticipate they would have to investigate further up to 50 of the average almost 600 permits issued annually, which they do not do now. Between 2016 and 2019 only 4 permits to remove trees were issued and two denied. Staff investigated 5 complaints in which charges were issued on two of those. There are 341 properties larger than .5 hectares.
Terry Fox Circle Proposals
Staff want to proceed having 3 designs commissioned for changes to Terry Fox Circle. At budget council approved $50,000 for a design. The aim is to have a design selected this year and ready for tender in early 2022 for construction in 2022.
While staff already have approval to go ahead, this report adds an outline of steps leading to construction and provision to develop alternative designs to present to council prior to the 2022 budget sessions, rather than one design only being presented at budget.
What To Do With The Money
Staff report they anticipate the province will grant $72,000 representing profit from the 2020 Ontario Winter Games. The money must be reinvested in municipal sports and recreation.
The chosen item (of three investigated, the other two are not mentioned in the report) is the purchase of a Wibit. It’s a modular, inflatable obstacle course and will be used at the Orillia Recreation Centre. It would be used in the pool, and part of the funds ($5,000) will be committed to the first of what staff say could be an annual Orillia Wibit Games.
The City had a total revenue of $1,411,014 and estimates $4.4 million was spent by attendees and participants (10,000 visitors) in Orillia.
This council meeting is a video conference and the chamber is closed to the public. The public can watch it live on Rogers TV.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Supplied)