Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council has three meetings today. They begin at 1 p.m. with a special meeting of council to discuss in closed session the waterfront redevelopment project. It is followed at 2:25 p.m. by a budget meeting about 2020 year-end results and tax rates for 2021 (this will detailed in a separate story). The regular council meeting begins at 4 p.m.

The waterfront project has had some major developments. Two companies, Fram Building Group and TPI Acquisitions (Tribal Partners) submitted proposals. There was a public comment period on the proposals last month and it could be one will be chosen today.

In other developments regarding the main property involved, 70 Front Street North, council was informed last week by memo there was resolution regarding appeals to lawsuits between Metro and the City. Previously they were in court to determine differing viewpoints of the term of the existing lease, which was decide in Metro’s favour to be 2039. Both sides appealed and the court reversed the decision and the term now ends in 2029.

A second point involved the Metro’s appeal about who pays for roof repairs. The court ruled Metro is responsible and will have to pay the City $620,000. The court also awarded appeal cost of $60,000 to the City.

Waterfront Parking

When the public portion begins, of interest to taxpayers in Orillia and our neighbours, Mayor Steve Clarke has a notice of motion to reconsider it’s March 29 decision about this summer’s waterfront parking plan.

While those living beyond City borders are upset, it should be noted their municipalities also have parking restrictions. The City of Barrie has a similar program like Orillia’s. Innisfil does not allow non-resident parking. Oro- Medonte has had a resident permit parking program for years and a fee for non-residents. Ramara is evaluating proposals which involve non-resident fees.

Clarke wants to change the provisions for neighboring municipality residents to get permits. Previously permits were offered to those residents provided the townships and Rama paid the City 50 cents per resident to be brought into the plan. What is not clear from the wording is if that means 50 cents for every resident, or just those who want permits. One suspects, based on other fee programs, it would apply to those using a service and not the whole population base.

Clarke is proposing the program include neighboring residents. He then goes on to ask that a $50 annual fee (not per use) be paid by those residents to respective townships and forwarded to the City. This will include use of boat launches. At the time of the March meeting, only Severn had rejected the 50 cent fee, but inclusion of all townships in this motion suggests the others did too.

The motion continues with a provision for Rama to stay with their decision to adopt the 50 cent fee.

Last year park use and parking got out of hand with an influx of GTA people coming to use our parks while regional restrictions were in effect in such numbers it was obvious. Following the March decision the City and township heads of councils and administrators (except Ramara’s CAO) met to find a compromise and identical proposals will be considered by each council.

In effect, since the original proposal meant the townships would be paying to help with the $150,000, 2021 budget necessitated by unique circumstances, the new proposal shifts the cost to individual taxpayers of those municipalities. Last year the City spent $95,000 on the program, of which $85,000 was recovered by permits (which does not include fines levied). There were almost 9,000 permits issued.

A second option council might choose is to just allow reciprocal agreements with the townships and Rama that each other’s permits would be valid in each other’s parks.

Lakehead Plans

Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans, principal, and Dr. Moira McPherson, president and vice-chancellor of Lakehead University will make a deputation to council to start the meeting.

The university now has 1,622 students, of which 756 are county residents. They offer 439 degrees. They estimate there is a $85 to 100 million economic impact on the community.

Their plan is to increase the economic benefits to Orillia to $400 million in the next 10 years. They anticipate added 10 new programs during that time. On the latter, without going into detail in the documentation, they state they “need to address the limits of our current physical space.”

Reports And By-laws

The report from last week’s committee meeting outlines council opted to create a new 9-member OPP Detachment Board, made up of one representative from council – and one from Oro-Medonte, two Orillia residents, two provincial appointees, and one citizen each from each township (which could be a member of Severn and Ramara councils). Council also passed all additional spending on previously budgeted items and to restore the piano at the Opera House.

Most by-laws on the agenda relate to the earlier budget committee meeting. One though, changes the parking by-law and bans parking on the south side of Stanton Drive near Couchiching Heights Public School.

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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