Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets in committee Monday at 4 p.m. Their day actually begins at 2:30 p.m. with a closed session.

In closed, they have two items. One is regarding a complaint about the Orillia Hall of Fame. The other is about ball diamond naming.

In public, they have 5 items on the consent agenda, which normally pass with one motion, unless a councillor pulls an item to have a different consideration made.

Council has a report recommending the Orillia Sport Council be allowed to take over the Athlete of the Year Award, which has been given most years since 1952. The sport council asked in 2013 to be given the responsibility, but staff thought the group was too new and council should wait until they were more established. Nine years later, staff have decided the sport council passed the test and council should hand off administering the ward – for a one year trial period.

The stipulations are the award committee have  a seat for a member of  the recreation advisory committee, the head of recreation and youth services be kept in the loop and a member of council be included in the award presentation.

The next item asks council grant authority to the general manager of development services and engineer to make agreements with property owners, to alter the antiquated idea that new development needs to have a recommended amount of parking spaces. The report also recommend authority be granted to receive of cash-in-lieu for few parking spaces.

How That Works

The next item illustrates why requiring parking for development in the downtown is out of step with current development philosophy. May municipalities are experimenting with reducing driving and parking in order to encourage use of public transit and walking, and most municipalities have such dense development in their downtowns there is no possible way to create more parking spaces.

Current Downtown Parking Near The Post Office

There is a  proposal to renovated and add a story to the post office building on Peter Street in order to create 40 rental units, Under current zoning by-law and official plan regulations this would require 30 new parking spaces. The property has 12 spaces and all are used by Canada Post.

The report states there are 1,093 parking spaces downtown and because several parking lots are leased the figure could be reduced to 666 if leases are not renewed. That is until construction of a new transit terminal is done and 254 spaces are created.

The development proposal is for affordable housing aimed at people who do not own cars, and the developer, Raising the Roof, is working with several area agencies on this project. To date a $1.35 million grant from CMHC, further grants and debt financing from CMHC of $118,000 and $300,000 of private grants have been obtained. The report does not indicate the total cost of the development. The group will also be approaching council to make use of the City’s affordable housing incentives program, which has been used for other projects and could mean getting a grant to cover taxes for a period of time provided a number of units are kept as ‘affordable’ and other fee waivers can be applied.

Raising the Roof states similar projects have been successfully completed and are in operation in other communities with little to no parking space requirements. The report is designed to inform council of the various requirements and options it can choose. One of those is to apply the cash-in -lieu of parking provision which would add $82,500 to the cost of the project.

The next report outlines new policy to be added to City books regarding electronic monitoring of employees. In this dystopian age, people at work can be monitored by computers in many ways, often simultaneously by several devices. The province has legislation requiring employers with more than 25 employees to have policies about surveillance.

The report lists all the ways City employees leave digital footprints from computer and cell phone use, to building access. Many of them make sense (e.g. recording who goes into water treatment plants, where vehicles are, websites visited, who is accessing records, and etc.). Interestingly the point of the legislation is so employees know they are monitored and how, but does not speak to how the data is used.

The last consent agenda item is a recommendation to amend the City’s COVID policy. If carried, it will remove testing requirements for existing unvaccinated employees, but new employees will still have to provide evidence they have been vaccinated.

And that’s it for the entire agenda. All the above could pass in two minutes if no items are pulled. If announcements are brief (unlikely, it’s an election year) the meeting could be over in 10 to 15 minutes, which would be a record.

The public can watch this meeting live on Youtube.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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