Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council meets January 30 at 2 p.m. The opening item is a deputation from Mallory Nievas of Weston Consulting and Bryce Taylor of Sionito Group of Charities to present a proposal for an affordable housing project at 26 West Street North.

Proposed West Street Development

The address where Crunch Fitness is located includes the parking lot the City operates as Lot 10 facing onto Coldwater Street. The proposal; is to construct a 4 storey building for 39 one bedroom, 9 two bedroom and 48 studio apartments on the parking lot portion of the property.

Sionito is a non-profit which owns and operates 4 affordable housing buildings in Toronto. Weston has a number of GTA apartment/condo projects in the GTA they have worked on, and the Bryne Developments residential development in Barrie.

Sionito funds its projects with a combination of private and government funding. There is no indication in their presentation documents they are going to be asking for a financial commitment for the City.


Following the deputation is the public forum which will lead into the committee portion of the meeting. Council has a report from the grants committee recommending each of the following groups receive grants of $2,500: Gathering: Festival of First Nation Stories, Orillia Jazz Festival, Orillia Scottish Festival, Roots North Music Festival, Shivers and Sizzles, and the Orillia Perch Festival. The committee of the last council made the recommendation for the funds from the 2023 grants budget. If the 2023 budget passes the grants budget as usual, there will be $17,000 left for other groups.

Proposed Dr. Seymour Conservatory Greenhouse

Next, staff are recommending council cancel the tender for the construction of a new Dr. Seymour Conservatory Greenhouse in Couchiching Beach Park. Staff also ask for direction to rethink the project to lower construction costs and $1,120,000 of the unspent budget for design phase be returned to reserves.

Tenders received last fall greatly exceeded the budget, ranging from $4.3 to $8.2 million.

Next, the development services and engineering department is asking council to increase the budget for the consultant to the Fittons Road west sewage pumping station design from $250,000 to $325,000 to be allocated equally from the wastewater reserve and the development charges reserve.  The existing station has servicing issues for staff and was built in 1975. With more development on the west side of Highway 11 in store, staff believe a study of needs should be done. The consultants responded to the RFP and all came in higher than budget.

Consent Agenda

That completes the committee part of the meeting. As the regular meeting takes over the first item under the new agenda structure is the consent agenda. The way this heading is used now includes the familiar correspondence sent to council and reports from previous committee meetings.

Of note in the correspondence received is a letter from the Chippewas of Rama informing council they object to the way the province has been using Minister’s Zoning Orders and there is an effect on treaties and established rights. With the new Bill 23 it is conceivable the province will be issuing more MZOs (even against the wishes of municipalities). The Chippewas of Rama are asking the City to inform them of any development plans which may involve MZOs. The recommendation is for the mayor to write a letter acknowledging receipt of the letter.

Another letter from the Orillia Common Element Condominium and Horizontally Built Standard Condominium Committee asks for council to support (recommended motion) the committee’s appeal for taxation fairness to the Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing and the minister of finance.

This group was a working group committee of council, but was disbanded in 2019. They have continued on their own to address two main issues; being taxed the same as other property owners but not getting the same access to municipal services and the City continuing to issue permits to build more condos of this type.

The previous council did take some action making developers responsible for informing home buyers of the taxation/services issue, which buyers to that point were not informed of, but provincial regulations do not allow the City to change property tax charges while being able to claim they cannot service private neighbourhoods.

The report from last week includes a number of citizen appointments to boards and committees. Pete Bowen, Ian Gordon and Kelly Smith will be on the committee of adjustment; Elaine Bremer and Helen Mallon on the library board; Shondell Conboy is appointed to the accessibility committee and Don Munro to the recreation advisory committee.

Todd Waem is going to the active transportation committee to fill out a term of a departing member. The Severn Township nomination of Wanda Minnings to the library board is recommended.  Jenna French is being appointed to the DMB.

Lake Head University has seats on some boards, Chris Tomasini will be appointed to the transit advisory committee and Erik Johnston will fill out a term on the town and gown committee.

Enquiry Motions

Councillor Tim Lauer has one asking for enforcement strategies regarding homeless encampment sites in Orillia. There is no supporting report which might indicate if this is getting ahead of a problem, or to deal with one which exists.

Councillor Jay Fallis wants staff to report on the cost of installing garbage cans at 15 bus stops and that such costs be forwarded to the 2024 budget committee.

With a bit of irony, council has a by-law to impose sanitary sewer charges of property owners in the North Lake subdivision (which is home to many members of the condo committee mentioned above).

You can attend council meetings now, or watch them live on Rogers TV.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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