Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council’s regular meeting begins at 4 p.m. Monday. There are two deputations on the top end of the agenda. MaryLynn West-Moynes, president of Georgian College is in to discuss the effect of the college on the regional economy.

Most obvious of the effect is what the college spends doing business ($1.7 billion), how big a chunk of the economy that is (5.3%) and how many people are employed directly and indirectly because of that (22,752 people). Specifically, the effect in Orillia directly amounts to $31 million of spending and 382 jobs.

The college has two new degree programs (colleges typically offer diplomas) an Honours Bachelor of Counselling Psychology and an Honours Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Next, Bessie Smith, CEO, and Kelly Seymour, board chair of the Orillia Public Library will update council on 2021 activity at the library.  The City only funds 90% of the library’s budget, with rest coming from the province, surrounding townships and through community fundraising.

There are 27,932 library members and 7,046 attended a program this year. The library operates in the digital world too and they had 180,862 visits to their website, with 111,231 uses of digital services available through libraries.

The library currently has a fundraising drive to further outfit it’s Makerspace. You can learn more about that here.

Reports From Closed Sessions

Last week two closed session items were noted here. This week documentation about those items is available. First is regarding a recruitment effort for a senior management position. It turns out the current director of business development, Jennifer Ruff, is leaving and council will establish an interview panel today consisting of the CAO, the director of human resources and councillors Ted Emond, Ralph Cipolla and Mayor Steve Clarke.

The other item was regarding councillor Jay Fallis’s action against the City stemming from council sanctioning him for seeking legal advice regarding the awarding of a preferred developer for the waterfront project.

The report from Amanpreet Sidhu, general manager  corporate services & City solicitor. In his report he states:

“Worth noting is that one of the remedies requested by the applicant (Fallis) is an order quashing the decision of the City’s Council to suspend the Applicant’s pay for 45 days. Council can reconsider/revoke its decision of October 4, 2021 and resolve the matter with the Applicant. However, it is highly unlikely that dropping the suspension of pay will resolve the NOA (notice of application). The various determinations sought by the Applicant go beyond the monetary Sanction imposed by Council.”

In other words, rescinding the pay suspension and comdenmation of Fallis’s action won’t resolve the other issues Fallis raised about conduct of the investigation is is unlikely to avoid a court case.

The other determinations Fallis wants resolved are contained in the notice of application with divisional court of the Superior Court of Ontario supplied to SUNonline/Orillia. Of those are an order in the nature of certiorari (i.e. a process for review of a lower court or government agency, and to make certain a previous decision followed the law) to quash the report given council by the integrity commissioner, and quash the subsequent decision by council to suspend Fallis’s pay for 45 days. Additionally, Fallis wants his cost for the application paid by the City, and whatever the else the court decides.

Sidhu’s recommended motion is for the City to budget $65,000 for legal cost for both the City and the integrity commissioner. This means any lawyer hired will represent both the City and the Integrity Commissioner. Sidhu states this will save money because if the integrity commissioner hires its own lawyer the City has to pay for it anyway under the terms of the contract appointing the integrity commissioner.

The application outlines more than a dozen alleged missteps by the integrity commissioner, including, the report to council was unfairly prepared because Fallis was not interviewed by the integrity commissioner, “contrary to what is stated in the recommendation report,” and the integrity commissioner added new allegations which were not part of the original complaint, and the Fallis’s lawyer was barred from attending the closed session meeting where council discussed the report and action to be taken.

The City will seek costs if they prevail, however the court may decide not to award costs.

Sidhu concludes, ‘it is the responsibility of the City and the IC to vigorously respond to the positions raised.”

Other Reports

The committee report from last week ratifies a decision to waive guidelines and procedures in order to investigate the feasibility of installing all way stops at Matchedash and Elgin Streets, Westmount Drive and Rose Avenue, and Nottawasaga at Douglas and Mackenzie Streets.

Crossing guards at four locations will be eliminated at the end of the year. Also, council opted to have staff proceed with design work to reconstruct Laclie Street to a two lane standard between Neywash and North Streets, and a three lane standard from beyond North Street to Murray Street. Bike lanes would be included in the upper portion of the project and not in the lower portion.

Keeping Warm

Councilors Pat Hehn and Jay Fallis have a notice of motion to have council provide $17,000 in the 2022 budget to the Lighthouse for a warming center for Orillia’s homeless population, and that the City continue engagement on the matter in the future. A second option reads the same, but includes the City use the Port Building as a warming center.

Part of the request is the City designate a building to be used as a warming center because the lighthouse anticipates it will already be at capacity.

There are no significant items on the consent agenda and no by-laws listed.

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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