Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council committee meets Monday afternoon. Their day begins with a closed session, which has four items on the agenda. One will have Orillia Power Generation Corporation’s president, Grant Hipgrave, and CFO Pat Hurley attending to discuss refinancing.

The second item is about appointments and a shareholder declaration regarding Orillia Power. Staying with electricity, the third item is about a Hydro One land opportunity. Finally they will be discussing appointments to municipal committees.

When the public meeting begins at 4 p.m. they will deal with a report from the affordable housing committee. The chair of the committee, Cam Davidson will be making the case the City increase its annual budget of $80,000 to contribute to the affordable housing reserve fund to $100,000.

Citing a Simcoe County study which found 45.4% of Orillia residents spent more than 30% of their incomes in the first six months of 2021 on housing and an influx of people moving to Orillia during the pandemic, they say rental housing is in drastically short supply and putting extra burden on renters. Additionally the realtors association reporting housing sales increased by 58.2% and the average sale price went up by 38.9% to $624,874 in the month of June.

The reserve fund balance is currently $200,000 and can only be used to help developers (typically non-profits) purchase land for affordable housing. There are several other uses – offsetting development charges, planning and engineering fees, and to transfer City-owned land to developers – all of which only amount to bookkeeping entries and no money changes hands.

The committee is warning council there are 5 affordable housing projects in various stages of planning and the reserve could be depleted quickly. Arguably, the City’s role in building affordable housing is minor in relationship to the total investment, amounting to dispensing with government fees and taxes (which the City wouldn’t get anyway if development didn’t take place) and there is little return to developers for these kinds of projects.

Charging Stations

A report from the environment and infrastructure department follows up on council’s decision earlier this year to install two electric vehicle charging stations at the Orillia Recreation Centre. Part of the earlier decision included staff developing policy to guide council on decisions for future requests, and to set user fees as they would apply to charging stations on municipal land which the City is participating in the installation and ongoing operation of and not to charging stations operated by private business. There are also amendments to the City’s parking by-law to create reserved parking spaces.

Staff is recommending a fee of $2 per hour to use the charging stations. Several other communities charge between $1.50 and $2.50, while Barrie and Brampton do not charge extra beyond normal parking fees.

Staff provided a range of expected revenue from $3,318 for 5% usage of the stations to $9,953 is usage is 15%. This amounts to a subsidy because costs range from $7,256 to $10,167. Fines for parking gas guzzlers in charging stations will be $125.

We All Want Ice Cream

Staff have a report on the feasibility of allow ice cream trucks to operate in the city. This is prompted by an enquiry motion from councillor Mason Ainsworth last May. There have been at least two trucks operating in town, but both were charged for operating without a license.

Staff wants approval for proposals to various by-laws involved before proceeding further. Chief among regulations proposed are trucks not being allowed to operate before sunrise or after sunset; not at intersections, or within 90 meters of a park or school; and not in the downtown. They also want to prohibit trucks from selling while noise making devices are being used (i.e. music used to attract attention). Operators are expected to pay for and follow regulations as any other business in Orillia.

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)


Support Independent Journalism