Council Preview

By John Swartz

Monday’s Orillia council committee meeting is at 4 p.m. It is preceded by a closed session. One of two items is the disposition of land in the Horne Business Park. The City is selling, or finalizing the sale of, land in the nieghbourhood where the new Hydro One and OPP buildings are located. The other item is about the naming of a road in the business park. There is no accompanying documentation, so details won’t be known until a motion is introduced at the public meeting toady, or next week at the regular council meeting.

There are only a few items on the public agenda and council will likely be able to vacate the online meeting well in time to enjoy a sunset at the waterfront along with visitors from the GTA.

The first item is a request from staff to create a “Strategic Initiatives/Business Development Decision Matrix” council could use to evaluate economic and business development proposals. This is an idea which should have been in the mix long ago. Theoretically, having a check list outlining qualities of various aspects of spending money is a good thing. Winning ideas usually hit all the boxes and those boxes should have linear quality scales identifying if an aspect just registers, or lands in the box. However, sometimes square pegs don’t fit round holes, and good checklists build in for anomalies (new ideas) that have no (or few) points of reference.

One point raised by staff, “The City of Orillia has various avenues by which strategic and business development initiatives can be brought forward to Council for consideration by the community; however there is no formal vetting and scoring process by which ideas and proposals are evaluated by Council,” suggests a checklist can be used to gatekeep ideas coming to council, instead of letting ideas flow and then council deciding if further pursuit is desired by weighing against a checklist (some ideas aren’t fully fleshed out when first presented, but still have merit).

The first option from staff is to receive as information, which means keep things as they are. The second will authorize staff to prepare a report outlining a matrix to adopt – with the help of a consultant at a cost of $75,000. A third option is to refer the matter to the 2022 budget committee.

Keeping The Water Flowing

The next item reveals some good news for taxpayers. The City has a reserve account with some money in it; specifically the water and wastewater reserve stands at $27.5 million. The reason for the information appearing in the report is because staff is asking for approval to spend $95,000 to repair and upgrade backup power for the water filtration plant. This is required work. Staff warn the full cost may change once work has begun because it is possible issues may need to be corrected that are not obvious at this time.

Staff also has a report asking or authorization to conduct a review of the council procedure by-law and terms of reference for committees of council (EAC, RAC, etc.). The last review of the former was in 2012, and the latter in 2015. Both documents guide the functioning of council and committees and a lot has change in the intervening years (digital technology and its use being the most obvious.) Council had to make some amendments on the fly last year in order to be able to conduct meetings online.

Enquiry Motions

Councillors Rob Kloostra has one enquiry motion, and Tim Lauer two motions they would like council to approve for further action. Kloostra would like a report n the feasibility and cost of installing a sunshade structure at the Skate Park on the waterfront. Lauer would like a report on the feasibility and cost to establish a litter cleanup crew for either, or a combination of, an in-house program or a contracted solution. Lauer’s other motion asks for a report about what can be done to fix the odour and taste of Orillia’s water supply.

The regular 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)


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