Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council starts its meeting day at 1 p.m., Monday, with a public planning meeting. A zoning change application is on the agenda. The property is on Ivy Lane (Grape Island) and the owners of two properties want to merge them into one, and make legal 8 existing outbuildings. Current zoning allows for 3 outbuildings. Four of the outbuildings are shipping containers which have been turned into ‘cottages,’ and the property owners need specific zoning permission for those.

When the 4 p.m. regular council meeting begins, council’s first order of business is to give Mitchell Dean a certificate of appreciation for his efforts to rescue two people and their pets from a house fire on Jameson Street. Dean discovered his neighbour’s house on fire in January 2021. He kicked in a door to help the elderly occupants and their dogs get out.

Next up is a presentation from members of the Champlain Sailing Club. Robert Hawke, Joe Fecht, and Barb Pidgen will share a plan to create a park on their location, combined with some property owned by the City, Orillia Power Corporation and land Rexton Properties needs to dedicate for parkland when that property is developed. If the plan goes ahead the new park would be on both sides of Davey Drive.

The club owns the buildings on the property and leases the land from the City. The building are old and the club wants to replace them. They also propose to create a new home for the Orillia Rowing Club, which currently operates at Tudhope Park.

Pumpkin Bay Park Proposal

The club is proposing a range of new activities which could include a splash pad, skate park for boards and bikes, picnic areas, green space, parking, a public dock for kayaks, paddle boards and canoes, a concession stand, and a winter skate trail on Lake Couchiching. A new clubhouse would include a kitchen, meeting space for the CSC and ORC, public washrooms, change rooms and a new boathouse for CSC and ORC.

The club says their proposal meets some of the objectives of the 2003 Waterfront Framework Plan (but is not mentioned in the 2014 Parks & Recreation Master Plan or the 2014 Transportation Plan) and the 2008 Centennial/Couchiching Parks master Plan and the Downtown Tomorrow Plan.

There is nothing in the documentation addressing funding. The club would like the City to finalize its plans for the Pumpkin Bay area and to finalize policies for leasing properties to non-profit groups (the Club has a 5 year lease ending in 2026).

Long-term they would also like the City to create a master plan for the pumpkin Bay area and implement it.


Councillor Jay Fallis pulled a couple items for council’s weekly information package to be discussed. One is from the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury regarding their petition to the federal minister of finance about funding for the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund. The town wants the government to create a Canadian Water Agency and increase funding. They believe more money would allow for:

  • Shoreline mitigation and restoration
  • Projects to improve contaminated sites in the watershed
  • Upgrades to help retrofit municipal infrastructure like wastewater and stormwater facilities to decrease total current discharges from existing facilities
  • Planting of 250,000 trees in the watershed, and purchasing and conservation of more forests and wetlands under the auspices of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority in order to make significant progress towards the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan goal of 40% of the watershed area being protected natural land.

The other letter is Mayor Steve Clarke’s response to a citizen’s letter received urging the City to create four more handicap parking spaces in lot 2 (Colborne Street near West). The mayor’s letter in response outlined relevant policy and concluded there was little likelihood of making new spaces.

Other correspondence on the agenda is from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. It’s conference time. Council has previously sent a few councillors to the conference and covers registration costs. The cost to attend the full conference is $799, meetings only is $739 and on a per day basis $550. That’s for early bird registration, which subtracts $100 to the full registration and lower amounts to the other types.

The report from last week’s committee meeting reveals no surprises with how council dealt with matters. Councillor Pat Hehn’s item to paint the crosswalks at West and Mississaga streets in time for Canada Day was approved, with the addition the report back to council on how much it will cost and the logistics of doing it be made a staff priority and returned to council at the May 9 meeting.

A report from the grants committee asks for approval to make grants of $1,500 each to the Legion, the Rotary Club and Couchiching Jubilee House, and $1,250 to the Orillia and District Arts Council. The committee is also asking council to consider making a $3,500 grant to the Legion from the tax rate stabilization reserve.

The legion’s request was for $5,000 toward a monument commemorating the historical Hunter Boats explosion; the committee’s action is partial grant from the grants budget and the rest from reserves. The Rotary Club asked for a grant to aid with costs of repairing the train station and track in Couchiching Beach Park. Couchiching Jubilee House intends to use some of the grant for recruiting, training and recognizing new and former volunteers and to offset costs to send children in their housing program to Orillia summer camps. The arts council asked for $2,000 for their mental health photography and art programs and was the only request that was reduced from the amount asked.

Notice of Motion / Consent Agenda

Council Mason Ainsworth has the only item under this header. He would like council to have staff directed to prepare a report on the options and opportunities that are available to increase ridership on the City’s transit system – including potential programs/incentives/initiatives available via the Connect Transit Pass system, transit fare opportunities and increased marketing campaigns. The Connect Pass is new this year and is a reusable card which can be used to pay single fares or buy monthly passes.

A letter from Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital CEO Carmine Stumpo gives the impression the Ontario government has stalled movement on a new hospital. The letter states: “The Ministry of Health has confirmed that there is no further action required by OSMH to move our project forward; such movement will only come at the “will of government”.” He is asking council for a letter of support to the government for a new hospital and suggests it might include a number of points such as population growth, job creation and service deficiencies related to the use of the current hospital building which would improve.

Council meetings are done by 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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