Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council has a meeting Monday at 2 p.m. The first item is a deputation by Insp. Coyer Yateman and Sgt. Jonathan Bouchard of the Orillia OPP. They are informing council the OPP will be using cameras in their cars.

Like a dashcam, these cameras will record whenever emergency lights are activated and whenever any rifles are unlocked. It has two other functions. One is to monitor license plates of all vehicles in the camera’s field of view. The system will alert an officer if information attached to a plate shows plates are expired (driver’s licenses too), suspended drivers, no insurance, or if the registered owner is wanted. It will also alert for vehicles connected to missing persons.

A camera also can record what is happening in the back seat of a police car. Video is uploaded and officers will be able to review and add text information, like case numbers, or bookmarks to key parts of a video. The in car systems can be paired to body cameras.

A second deputation will be made by Nicole LaFrance of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). This appears to be a make work, dog and pony show to tell council all the things about MPAC they, or anyone, already knows. The only piece of information in the entire presentation that might be news to some is the property assessment values are stuck at January 1, 2016. This means your property taxes are calculated based on the value of your property MPAC determined by that date.

Next is the public forum and a closed session meeting. In the latter, there are three items. One is a municipal services management agreement negotiations. While there is no documentation, these things typically outline responsibilities and cost of services provided by others (typically the County of Simcoe).

The other two closed session items are to discuss an agreement of purchase and sale for land in the Horne Business Park, and finally an item to select appointees to boards and committees.

When council returns to meeting in public, the next item comes from councillors Durnford and Fallis to review Thomas Gummersall Anderson’s inclusion in the Orillia Hall of Fame. It turns out some of the accolades which got Anderson into the hall may not be as stated and his actions as an Indian Agent may have resulted in Orillia’s Native population being moved out to three reserves. The recommendations are to review (investigate) and report back to council; to ask Lakehead University’s Indigenous Initiatives office to do the investigation; or to immediately remove Anderson from the Hall of Fame.

Next is a report from the Orillia Police Services Board to have council designate part of Coldwater Road from Emily to Albert Streets as a school zone. The key issue is safety  concerns reported by crossing guards at Patrick Street. There have been two serious incidents involving children and parents at that intersection in the last 5 years and six vehicle collisions. It will cost $20,00 to install flashing signs by the start of the next school year.

The City tested traffic in October and December last year and found east bound traffic on Coldwater exceeded the speed limit 60% of the time (though the average speed was 52 KPH) and 67% of westbound drivers were speeding (average speed 53 KPH). The City also placed roadside speed indicator signs at the first testing period, left them up and tested at the second for one day to see if the signs had any effect on driving habits. They didn’t.

The next item relates to UBER’s operation in the City. They were given a license to operate last December. UBER wants to City to drop its requirement drivers get a vulnerable sector screening certificate. The problem for UBER is different municipalities have different requirements making it hard for the company to control things at their end. Drivers can be licensed in one community without the requirement and not be able to take a fare to Orillia.

Another issue is with the VSC itself. It captures people who have not been convicted of a crime (acquitted, charges dropped, or their name happens to end up in a police report); it also ignores pardons. This is far more invasive than a criminal record check (also required) that would uncover any convictions anyway. The recommendation is to repeal the requirement from the municipal code, though staff seem to be making a case to keep it in.

UBER counters their system requires parents apply for inclusion of their dependants to use the service and UBER has a number of checks to ensure children get into the right car and are dropped off where they are supposed to go.

Next, staff have a report that council adopt a recreation financial assistance program for a two-year trial. Such a program would provide assistance to approximately 1400 people. Staff estimate the cost to be $5,500. The monthly cost for an adult to use the Orillia Recreation Centre would be lowered to $15. The program would only be available to the first 100 applicants each month.

Motions and By-Laws

Councillor Fallis has an enquiry motion asking staff to report on the feasibility of creating a seasonal dog park at the Carmichael Ball Diamond and if having the public help for spring clean up of the diamond is feasible.

A by-law to amend the traffic and parking regulations is on the agenda. Boat trailer parking will be prohibited in Tudhope, Couchiching Beach and Centennial Parks and on Brant, Canice, Neywash, Tecumseth streets and Centennial Drive and Parkview Avenue. The same by-law establishes a new parking lot at 20 Front Street South at a rate of $3 hourly from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

After today’s meeting the 2023 budget becomes official and new tax rates established.

The meeting can be watched live on the City’s Youtube channel.

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


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