Council Preview Part 2

By John Swartz

When council resumes it’s meeting in public the first item is a 114 page report regarding a study of the Art in Public Places policy. One of the wide ranging recommendations is to create an External Service Provider to manage the program. Whether this creates the ability to avoid fiascos like what occurred last fall where 7 new pieces of art were commissioned/awarded to artists not from Orillia is not clear.

The issue there was the current committee operates similarly to a committee of council and the lacks the authority to deviate for the City’s purchasing policy (i.e. provide weight to submissions from Orillia and area artists greater than say, to those from British Columbia).

The document states an external manager would be the point of contact for establishing calls for submissions, managing the jury review process and over see the creation and installation of artworks.

Along with that recommendation the report states a staff committee involving departments beyond just the culture staff should be created to be the initial criteria development body when new art is contemplated. One of the issues with the last project was some proposals weren’t feasible from an engineering perspective and that happened because the engaging criteria was not specific about conditions material to a particular piece, or pieces, being able to be supported in the environment proposed. Having a representative from engineering on such a committee might head off that kind of issue.

The next player, the existing Art in Public Places committee function would change from being hands on in the selection process, to being more of a conceptual and program direction (set goals and budgets for expanding the stock of public art) function.

The recommendations include council establish a regular budgetary plan to put money into acquiring public art. They estimate $5,000 annually be budgeted to cover the cost of having an external Service Provider in the first three years of any change in policy; $5,000 to cover the cost of local artist development for projects; $20,000 to create two new murals annually, and create a reserve to cover the cost of small to medium projects (2 to 3 per year) and large projects (1 every 4 years. The latter two would have amounts attached to them of $5,000 and $100,000.

The recommendation is to receive and adopt in principal. The City’s purchasing policy by-law is perfectly fine for stocking up on paper clips and setting out more major purchase guidelines (tenders, requests for pricing from several sources, etc.), but it is unsuitable for ensuring local artists be counted among winners of any call for submissions if the policy is not removed for the process. Otherwise, a repeat of what happened last fall will surely happen again.

Air BnB, Etc.

Council asked for  a report outlining what other municipalities are doing regarding short-term rentals and what the costs would be for the City to regulate that area of business.

Staff say the number of short-term places in Orillia went from 50 in 2019 to 115 in 2023. They also say between 2017 and 2019 there were 8 complaints about 8 properties received, compared to 5 in 2022. The complaints ranged from loud music, to parking and garbage accumulation.

Staff say there are numerous ways to be able to control short-terms already in various policies and by-laws and a specific by-law may not be needed. However other municipalities put caps on how many are allowed and locations combined with mechanisms to revoke licenses if a complaint threshold is reached, all of which the City has no ability to do now (they can simply issues fines, or orders to correct for by-law infractions).

They also say there a number of court actions pending against other municipalities regarding their by-laws and suggest any by-law considered now might be ineffective, or might to change pending outcome of those cases. Staff recommends receiving the report, or punting it off to the 2024 budget committee for a decision (which might assume information re: legal proceedings and a better handle on license fees would apply). A third option is to move ahead with a bylaw (to be drafted) which staff estimate would involve $25,000 for legal consultation.

Feeding The One Armed Bandit

Parking downtown will go up if council takes action of a staff report. Whether it doubles to $3/hr. for parking on Mississaga Street, or lands on a lower figure ($2.25/hr) depends on which recommendation council goes with.

The strategy proposed by the parking advisory committee and joined by the Downtown Orillia Management Board aims to funnel more cars to municipal lots where  rates will either remain unchanged, or increase to $2/hr. if the second option is chosen.

The proposals differ in creating high demand pricing, so if parking rates in lots goes up it would apply to the lots opposite Brewery Bay Food Company and behind Mariposa Market, and not the others and have lower meter rates on streets other than Mississaga.

Either way, in the absence of any acknowledgement of current inflation pressures, staff recommend council choose a plan and implement the new rates May 1.

Either way, the free parking in lots at Christmas will be history. Monthly parking permits will also go up from the current $50 or $60 depending on which lot, to $70 and $85 in graduated steps to 2026.

Grow Your Own

As staff report regarding creation of community gardens at Hillcrest and York Street Parks is next of the agenda.

This was a council request and staff wants direction to establish community support and prepare a 2024 budget request. In order to prepare a budget, neighbourhood resident input is needed, then staff have to figure out where and how big to make such a garden in each park. Receiving the report comes with approval for staff to work toward those ends. Staff estimate, based on two other gardens already operating, it could cost $31,000 to establish new ones.

Where is it Happening?

The reconstruction of Centennial Drive is going to cause problems for summertime events in Centennial and Couchiching Beach Parks. This will effect 6 large events, including Canada Day and numerous smaller events that typically use smaller areas (pavilions). Some events, like Christmas in June and the new Halloween in June, will remain at the waterfront.

2023 Summer Park Access

Tudhope Park policy only allows two large events per year, so that has to be fixed. For access to events remaining at the waterfront, council previously approved a $28,000 budget for shuttle buses from Lot 6 (at City Hall) to the park. The plan is cover approximately $24,000 of that from a flat rate ($30) parking fee.

Staff also recommend waiving $5,659 of concession operation fees at the beach area stand (the City does not operate this function), anticipating there won’t be enough sales because of reduced park users to cover the cost of operation. As an alternative Staff looked at relocating the stand to a building near the entrance to Tudhope Park, but that would cost the City $100,00 to make it useable.

Anticipating a boat trailer parking problem because the boat launch will be out of action as will the parking lot there, staff are recommending boat trailer parking be banned from Tudhope, Couchiching and Centennial Parks and on Brant, Canice, Neywash, Parkview and Tecumseth Streets. They are also recommending overflow parking in Tudhope Park typically used during the Mariposa Folk Festival be opened trough out the summer.

Staff want a budget of $50,000 for signs, portable washrooms and minor improvements to some parts of Tudhope Park to accommodate more parking.

Hazardous Waste

The cost of dealing with hazardous waste went up.  The bid from Photect Environmental Solutions was $83,000 – approximately $40,000 more than budgeted. Staff resolved to remove collecting some chemicals (typically pool chemicals) and pharmaceuticals and needles (pharmacies have to take them back free of charge anyway) from the contract, reducing the cost to $65,000. Staff are therefore asking for a $20,000 increase to the budget.


Councillor Luke Leatherdale has one to reconsider a previous decision to receive as information a report from budget regarding the garbage tag program.

He contends the success of the clear garbage bag requirement has reduce the amount of landfill garbage significantly enough that staff’s recommendation to phase out the 20 tags per year given to residents be rescinded. Keeping an allotment of ‘free’ tags would add $85,000 to the budget, which Leathdale recommends come from the Tax Rate Stabilization reserve.

Councillor Jay Fallis has an enquiry motion asking for staff to report on the feasibility and cost of changing three parking spaces at the Orillia Recreation Centre to barrier free spaces.

The council meeting can be viewed online on the City’s Youtube channel.

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


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