Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council has a closed session, committee and special council meetings scheduled for Monday. Their day starts at 2 p.m. with the closed session on two matters. One is an update on a land opportunity with Hydro One and the other is a status update (the 4th status update so far) on phase one of the Centennial Drive reconstruction project.

The latter is a legal issue, which at this stage – construction on the part of Lakeview Drive (which the City refers to as the Esplanade and most people know as the parking area south of the legion) began last May – seems a little odd to have at this point in time.

The committee meeting starts at 4 p.m. and can be watched live on Youtube. That is also the link for the special meeting.

Consent Agenda

There are 5 items on the consent portion of the agenda (which can pass with one motion) and with only one other item and an enquiry motion it could be a short meeting.

Two of those items relate to requests for all way stops at Westmount and Rose, Douglas and Nottawasaga and McKenzie and Nottawasaga Streets. Staff say the provincial benchmark for recommending all ways stops is far below standards and are not recommending council approve them.

As part of the City’s working relationship with Lakehead University, a project to investigate the potential of developing an economic case for creating a cyber security and internet technology hub in Orillia was started in the spring of 2021.

The report before council recommends several steps the City can take to grow a culture of internet security through it’s own practices and it’s relationships with Lakehead and Georgian College, both of which have related programs and expert teaching staff.

One of the key findings is Lakehead should establish a regional chapter of the International Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The group sets standards for all kinds of things electronic from manufacturing standards (computer chips to television broadcast and recording machines) connectivity protocols so devices can talk to each other (WiFi and cabling standards) and power generation and distribution.

This would be an important step because anyone wanting to relocate or build a startup needs to know, first Orillia exists, and a network of capable staff and educational institutions producing graduates and research are all at hand. The best way to do that is become involved with professional groups.

One might think because of the age of the internet the horses have left the barn on developing a critical mass of internet security companies doing research and developing new applications, but as long as there are people developing new ways to infiltrate computers and networks there will always be a need for security development, which means new eyes and training and employment for those people.

Orillia is uniquely situated with two educational institutions, Hydro One which will rely heavily on fiber network communications reaching throughout the province, and two major backbone trunk lines intersecting in the City. We already have a good start on the kinds of people to build around, it’s a matter of letting others know this and everyone working together to create a security hub, which will mean a number of high paying jobs and down the line support jobs that pay well can be created.

Another consent item is a report from staff recommending council defer payment of development charges by David Robb for the renovation and restoration of the former Lighthouse property on Peter Street. Robb states there have been delays and he has uncovered water damage to the foundation resulting from groundwater flowing in from City owned property. Staff recommend deferring $6,220 plus interest of 5.7% for one year.

Money, Money, Money, Money

Moving on to department reports, the treasurer has one outlining the City has a $1.449 million operating budget surplus from 2021. One of the greatest budget savings comes from winter snow removal, where $536,778 was not spent. A number of other factors – many related to COVID stay at home orders and lower than normal use of City facilities throughout the year – contributed to the remaining savings.

The report council will likely approve as presented directs the money to various reserve accounts.

Counicllor Mason Ainsworth has an enquiry motion asking staff to prepare a report for the 2023 budget committee on the cost of installing dog waste canisters along the trail in the West Ridge.

Special Meeting

This meeting is necessitated to deal with any motions resulting from the closed session Centennial Drive Report. The only item is the report from the just completed committee meeting, which means if passed it won’t be on next week’s regular council meeting agenda. But, it will also include any committee motions related to the closed session. Any of those closed session decisions might involve presenting by-laws (which aren’t listed on the agenda, but can be added) that must be passed.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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