Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets at noon today for the first of three types of meetings. First is a planning matters meeting, with four items on the agenda.

The first item is a zoning by-law amendment for 28 West Street North by 2770112 Ontario Inc.  The building has office space on the ground floor and three apartments on the second floor. The intention is to convert part of the ground floor into two more apartments and the remainder to be used as a laundromat. As it stands now a laundromat is not listed as a permitted use, therefore requiring a zoning amendment.  

Adding the new residences assumes more parking, and as pointed out in last week’s Council Preview, its downtown and adding parking spaces is near impossible for most property owners, and not possible here. The answer is for the owner to pay the City cash-in-lieu for the one additionally required parking space it can’t create.

The second agenda item surely is a prime example of what property owners complain about with development in Ontario. In order to change the zoning at 100 Colborne Street requires the input of many people and 73 pages of report to make a paper change permitting the offices, now designated for medical uses, to just offices.

One can understand the frustration of some property owners who have to go through all the same steps for simple changes of little consequence.

Accutrac Management Inc. said half the building is not leased and the case will likely get worse.

“The upcoming relocation of the Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital to a new site remote from the subject property will render the current restriction on the use of the building (only medical and associated uses permitted) in both the Official Plan and Zoning Regulations of the municipality as obsolete,” the applicant said.

Two things become apparent in that statement. One how being too precise in legal documents can be expensive later on. One wonders why on earth limiting the kind of office in the first place was necessary, so that today an accountant can’t lease space there.

One can understand the frustration of some property owners who have to go through all the same steps and great expense for benign or simple changes as though they are proposing to drop an oil refinery into a residential neighbourhood.

Second, SUNonline/Orillia went on record some time ago any new hospital should be built in the same general area as the existing hospital (Soldiers’ does own a lot of the surrounding neighbourhood already) or as close to the current location and the downtown core as possible –for exactly the reason outlined in the quote above. Ancillary to the hospital medical services will also relocate leaving behind a glut of unused space in the City’s core, which in the long run will likely lead to urban decay.

Waterfront Development

The third item is one of the most important zoning change applications to reach the City in maybe a lifetime. It’s from FS Orillia GP Inc. This is the company formed resulting from FRAM Building Group being given the go ahead to develop 70 Front Street North.

FRAM’s Waterfront Development Artist Concept For The First Phase

FRAM proposed to construct a generic looking 8 storey residential/commercial building at the corner of Front and Coldwater Streets, among other components, and this application is for that building as a first phase of redevelopment.

This is despite any public release of documents showing how FRAM with its Chevy looking, fewer residences and commercial space proposal won out over TPI’s Corvette quality proposal with more residences and ten times the amount of commercial space, plus additional public access, park-like features – and a hotel.

And, we still don’t know how much FRAM paid, or how much TPI proposed to pay the City for the land. But council is going to decide to make things legal according to the zoning by-law.

The fourth item has a number of housekeeping amendments to the Official Plan and zoning by-law necessitated by changes to the Planning Act under Bill 109. A fair amount of the changes relate to the speed at which development applications are processed, along with some changes to definitions and agreed upon changes to the Dougall Canal Overlay Zone area.

Tax and Regular Meetings

Start times for the  two meetings following the planning meeting are dependent on how long the first takes, but a tax appeals meeting is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. The majority of appeals which generated refunds or write-offs are because of changes to properties.

The regular council meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Linda Goodall of The Lighthouse Shelter and Michael Bells of the Orillia Community Church have a deputation to present a proposal to operate a warming centre this coming winter, and for the City to contribute $16,000 to the cost.

he Lighthouse is the lead organization and the OCCC is the location of the center.  Other community groups and businesses are involved in various ways. This past winter there were 34 nights a warming center had to operate and 243 beds were used.

The cost of last year’s effort was $47,497.61. The city contributed $17,000, Simcoe County $7,200 and private donors $8,000. The balance was made up of donations from the OCC, The Lighthouse, The Sharing Place Food Bank and others.

The County has already allocated $16,500 for this winter for an anticipated $53,000 budget.  

Next counicllor Tim Lauer pulled a report from council’s information package for discussion and action. It’s from Doug Downey, the attorney general of Ontario regarding the release of people charged with crimes.

Lauer was asking for answers to –

An explanation of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Form 10- Criminal Court Undertaking which is used by police to compel accused persons to attend court and abide by specific conditions while their case is pending before the courts, as well as an overview of factors, rationale and rules that affect police custody.”

Downey’s letter explains the province makes charges and prosecutes under the Criminal Code of Canada. The criteria for use of the Form 10 Undertaking, in which many people charged are released right away, rather than held for a bail hearing, is backed by the Supreme Court of Canada with the presumption until a trial and a finding of guilt, people should remain free, unless several factors demand they be held.

There is a widely held view too many people are released. SUNonline/Orillia can attest from correspondence from the OPP, while many people are released right away, there are many held for bail hearings on the most serious crimes. Bail is meant as a guarantee people show up for court, but often means poor people remain jailed while others with means can go free.

The report from last week’s committee meeting is unremarkable, other than the motion from the closed session does not provide any information of the nature of a complaint about the Orillia Hall of Fame. That motion was simply to receive, which means take no action. A second motion concerning the administration of the Athlete of the Year Award, passes responsibility to the Orillia Sport Council.

Consent agenda items and by-laws contain no greatly significant items. The list of by-laws has one to levy taxes on Lakehead University ($115,275), Georgian College ($97,050), and Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital ($18,450). Those entities do not pay property taxes, but there is provision to tax based on enrollment and the number of hospital beds. What is most interesting is Lakehead has surpassed Georgian with enrollment.

The meetings are available to watch on Youtube. This time around three separate video feeds have been set up. The planning meeting is here. The tax meeting is here. The regular meeting is here. Though it is the experience latter meetings roll into the existing feeds for prior meetings while viewing, the extra links are provided in case that doesn’t happen today.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied)


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