By John Swartz
The agenda for Monday’s 4 p.m. regular Orillia council meeting is pretty light. With no presentations or deputations council will jump right the report from last week’s committee meeting.
The motion emerging from last week’s closed session regarding councillor Jay Fallis’s Notice of Application for Judicial Review was received and $55,000 for anticipated legal fees will be appropriated form the Tax Rate Stabilization reserve.
Last week council went with staff recommendation to change the definition of local produce in the Municipal Code from “products grown on lands in the Townships of Severn, Ramara and Oro-Medonte” to “products grown on lands in the Province of Ontario.” A change several local food groups were not in favour of.
The desire by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 34 to erect a memorial of the 1943 Fairmile boat explosion, which happened on the waterfront at the foot of Mississaga Street (what is now Veterans’ Park) did not get turned down as staff recommended, but will move ahead to a discussion/design stage. The legion had hoped to have the new memorial in place in time for the October anniversary of the event, but it won’t be until next year, assuming the project gets approved, because council asked staff to prepare an installation budget for the 2023 budget committee. Staff, who did not like the simple pillar design offered, were asked to work with the Art In Public Places Committee. It should be noted the legion approached council with the request having design and cost estimate (to the legion) of making the monument in hand.
Also related to this matter, the legion applied for a $5,000 grant for the monument, which had a cost to the legion estimate of $10,000. The grants committee approved $1,500 from the grants budget and recommended $3,500 from the tax rate stabilization reserve, but council deferred a decision until today. However, with today’s motion council directs the entire amount be charged to the grants budget under waiver of City policy. Today’s move involves waiving policy and does not approve the grant. It just allows the grants committee authority to authorize a grant under one budget, presumably at a later date closer to any approval by council for installation of the monument.
Council adopted changes to the makeup and contribution methodology to the City’s reserve funds last week. They also authorized, as recommended by City treasurer, John Henry, a new financing strategy for capital projects to debt finance some projects according to criteria regarding what projects would be eligible for debt financing.
Debt financing as relates to municipalities commonly involves issuing bonds or debentures. Oddly, under the report header of the agenda is a motion to allow the City to issue a debenture not to exceed $10,765,000 over a 20 year term for phase 2 of the Centennial Drive reconstruction project. There was no item about this on the committee agenda last week and no recent public discussion has taken place (i.e. meeting) to our knowledge, so this item appearing on the report portion of the agenda may be just a misplacement on the agenda and should have been under Notice of Motion. In fact the report to council this item refers to is dated after last week’s committee meeting.
If approved the City would apply for the debenture with the province’s Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation, rather than the bond and debenture market. Presumably interest rates are more favourable borrowing from the provincial government.
Phase one is the construction currently near completion on Lakeside Drive (which the City keeps referring to as The Esplanade), or as more commonly known, the parking area between the legion and Elgin Street adjacent to Veterans’ Park. The City expects to award the construction contract for phase two (from Mississaga Street to Brant Street) in June with completion by the end of 2022. The budget for that work is $17,800,000. The City has received a grant for 40% of the budget and in the report it is noted council approved the debenture at the 2022 budget meetings.
The See You On The Patio program is back on council’s agenda. A report by councillors Campbell, Cipolla and Emond recommends council commit to closing Mississaga Street every weekend of the summer through to Labour Day. The Downtown Orillia Management board is still not on board with this and only wants to only close the street three weekends. The authors state they would like to see a summer-long event become an annual program.
Some downtown businesses do not see the merit of drawing people downtown to restaurants or for strolls and instead believe people driving by will notice their businesses and look in their windows. The cost to the DOMB is a factor, which the councillors wish to neutralize by providing funding to the DOMB for the event.
If council adopts today’s motion it will be contingent on the DOMB agreeing to close the street every weekend.
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)