Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets in committee Monday. This is the only committee meeting on the summer schedule for the month of July. The regular council meeting will be Thursday July 21.

They start with a 3 p.m. closed session. One item relates to disposition of land in the Horne Business Park. This is in regard to the sale of Lot 7 which was on a previous agenda. An information note to council shows the land is being sold to Ivan Rebello’s 2577310 Ontario Inc. That company appears to be a trucking enterprise. The information further states the purchaser’s name was changed to Vandy Enterprises Inc., which is the name of a trucking company registered in several Southwestern and Mid-American states.

The other item on the closed agenda is for council to make appointments to boards and committees. Details of which appointments being made are usually introduced in the public meeting as a motion from closed session.

The agenda for the public meeting looks pretty heavy, until one sees 13 of the 18 items are on the consent agenda. Unless councillors pull items all 13 will pass with one vote.

Some of the items of interest on the consent agenda include:

  • Remuneration for the committee of adjustment, which primarily deals with zoning variances. Currently three committee members get $15 per application, the chair gets $20. The recommendation is to change that to $60 per meeting for members / $70 for the chair, which is still below rates paid by 7 other municipal committees surveyed. Committee members are expected to:
  1. Have knowledge and experience with City of Orillia Official Plan and Zoning Bylaws, 
  2. have the appropriate technology (high speed internet, computer with audio/video capability) to facilitate paperless and virtual meetings whenever possible,
  3. have monthly meetings deal with an average of 3-4 applications, along with the necessary preparation of approximately 2 hours per application,
  4. have ability to perform site visits and physical inspections related to applications as required
  • The Blue Box program in Ontario is changing, specifically how it’s paid for. Industry instead of property taxes will be paying and the new program means all municipalities will collect the same types of recyclables and only three companies will handle the pickup and processing for all. This has the potential to save the City $1 million per year. This however, relies on the company the City wants to work with, Circular Materials Ontario, working out a deal with the City’s current collector, Mid Ontario Disposal, for local collection and transfer to a regional facility. There is a year to transition from the current status to the new one in 2024. If a deal between the two companies isn’t reached, Circular would take over local delivery and the City would have to pay Mid Ontario $275,000 to get out of its contract.
  • It’s a sign of the times where the failure of higher authorities to address the root causes of violent behaviour and deal with the general breakdown of civil decorum are forcing municipalities with fewer resources to spend money to protect staff from violent outbursts. To this end staff are asking for $50,000 to fund a Security Risk Assessment for all City facilities.
  • Staff are presenting a policy which would allow healthcare providers to use City facilities (primarily the Orillia Recreation Centre) for therapeutic uses with their patients. Using public facilities for business purposes is prohibited, and the new policy would allow one on one sessions provided practitioners buy a membership.
  • A related report would authorize the Couchiching Family Health Team to use the rec centre for rehab classes without charge to the CFHT, but individuals would have to buy passes. Staff estimate rental by CFHT would otherwise be $12,000 annually, offset by about $9,000 in individual pass fees.
  • Another related item is a recommendation to make a deal with Lakehead University for students to use the rec center in the 2022/2023 school year, for a fee of $42,500 (up to 200 students) and $1,500 for every 10 students after that.
  • Staff have a motion for the City to accept payment form FRAM Group of $345,000 for its share of the cost of burying power lines on Centennial Drive. The total cost of doing so is $1.3 million, which is about $1 million less than originally budgeted.
  • Development Services has a policy for council to adopt to institute a lead water pipe replacement rebate program. When properties are found to have lead pipes connecting to municipal water lines (during water main replacement construction) homeowners are notified and encouraged to change out their pipes on their properties, which until this rebate program is adopted is at their own expense. Homeowners could get a rebate equal to 50% of the cost to a maximum of $3,000.
  • Staff are reporting back to council regarding the cost of installing a shade structure at the Skateboard Park on the waterfront. Nothing will be done at this time except to forward the report and costs of $18,000 to the 2023 budget committee.
  • Perry Maksymiw wrote council in November 2021 to be able to relocate his Sweet Dreams Ice Cream stand from the location he has operated from for many years on the west side of Centennial Drive (which will soon be a construction zone), to a spot in the vicinity of the Port building he has used during events in Centennial Park. Maksymiw would pay any costs and has the support of the chamber of commerce. Staff say the City has no obligation to provide another space and since people can get ice cream at French’s and from the new operators of the Island Princess it’s not needed.
Other Items

The main item on the rest of the agenda which might take some time to deal with is an updated Water Master Plan. That’s water coming in not leaving. The study outline a number of improvements that will be needed over the coming decades with $10 million forecast during the next 8 years and $11 million the next decade. $13 million of that is outlined as expansion to accommodate growth, which would mean development charges can be used to fund some of the cost.

The consultant, Tatham Engineering, identified two north end neighbourhoods where the subsystem is not fed from more than one point, which is a problem if the water main breaks. They recommend making various new connections and adding a second water main on Laclie Street for a two block section between Stanton and Hillside Drives. The have slotted that cost, $1.1 million to the 2030s, meanwhile Laclie Street in that area is scheduled to be reconstructed within the next 5 years.

It’s back to the drawing board for plans to service the Inch Farm industrial lands on the west side of Walmart and  Highway 11. The original budget of $3.5 million was negated when the environmental assessment showed the City needed to construct a sewage pumping station. This raised the budget to $9.5 million. However the lowest tender received was for $12 million. Council could plow ahead and staff recommend the additional $9 million could come from the land reserve fund (which would equal any presumed income from 70 Front Street which the City bought for approximately $9 million and should recover from the sale of the land), but staff’s primary recommendation is to revoke the tender and rethink how to service the land.

Enquiry Motions

There are two. One is from councillor Ainsworth to have staff report back on the cost and feasibility of having a city-wide garage sale event. Councillor Lauer has one for staff to report back to the 2023 budget committee regarding strategies to accelerate the storm water master plan to retrofit end of line connections to both lakes. This is a financial exercise and Lauer wants debt financing to be part of the analysis.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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