Council Preview

By John Swartz

Monday afternoon’s Orillia council meeting at 4 p.m. starts with the announcement of the 2021 Athlete of the Year Award. There is no information about the nominees and there was no award in 2020.

When business of the regular meeting begins, the first item is one Councillor Jay Fallis pulled from a consent agenda in November. It’s a letter from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit asking the province to create a cooling tower registry. This is a response to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease in Orillia in November 2019 in which 11 people were stricken and one of those died.

The SMDHU wants the province to created a mandatory registry of cooling tours present in each municipality, and make owners of those systems responsible for keeping maintenance records by :

  1. Documenting system maintenance requirements, including scheduled inspections.
  2. Specifying routine water treatment protocols, including chemical treatments or other specialized treatment equipment. (This will also extend equipment life, minimize energy consumption, minimize water consumption, and maintain a safe environment).
  3. Having system standby and shutdown protocols.
  4. Having disinfection protocols to remedy deviations from expected standards, including when disinfection is urgently required.
  5. Having a contingency response plan in the event of known or suspected cases of Legionellosis.

Presumably, Fallis is bringing this to council in order to have the City on record as supporting the health unit.

Councillor Pat Hehn also has an item pulled from a December consent agenda.  The item is a letter from the Town of East Gwillimbury regarding the Holland Marsh Polder Phosphorous Recycling Facility. The issue is the province introduced the York Region Wastewater Act which holds up the environmental assessment application for the Upper York Sewage Solutions Project and will delay the $40 million recycling project. The town wants the province to move ahead with the recycling project and has petitioned support from Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority municipalities and Orillia.

The report of last week’s committee meeting is next and the item about Orillia Public Library funding has moved ahead to this week. What happened is council authorized payment of an unbudgeted consultant’s invoice ($20,905) to be funded from a library budget surplus of $100 thousand. What did not get passed onto today’s formal meeting was a recommendation from staff that future surpluses be retained by the library board instead of returned to the City. Doing so would also have meant the board would be left to deal with budget deficits as well.

Consent Agenda

This portion of the night’s agenda has items usually of a routine nature that are either received or carry recommendations to pass items along to appropriate departments and committees for investigation and reporting to council. All items are voted on at once and there is little discussion. However that is not always the case. One item from the committee of adjustment asks council to put their request for increasing committee member’s remuneration to the 2023 budget.

The recommended motion attached to this item directs staff to establish an ad hoc committee to review compensation in the first year of the next council term.

The committee’s argument includes their pay has not increased in 42 years, and they have had to incur additional personal expense to attend video conference meetings and there is nothing in the City’s procedure to reimburse them. They argue councillors are provided with a number of things (phones, laptops, mileage expenses, and other support) while members of this provincially mandated committee operating independently of council has none of those things.

Orillia’s three member committee of adjustment has authority to make decisions about planning and zoning matters like severances, minor variances and sign variances with things like land severances, minor variances and sign variances.

Also on the consent agenda is a letter from Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux asking council to support the establishment of a Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic. The recommendation is to have mayor Steve Clarke write a letter of support.

In the  by-laws section of the agenda, one is to authorize the mayor to extend the contract with TOK Transit Ltd. to operate Orillia Transit for another 5 years. TOK has been the operator since 2017 and staff negotiated an extension that provides for no increase of cost beyond the annual consumer price index.

The regular council meeting is a video conference and the chamber is closed to the public. The public can watch it live on Youtube.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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