Council Preview

By John Swartz

Monday’s Orillia council meeting will happen at 2 p.m. at the Opera House because the council chambers are still being renovated. It starts with a special meeting for tax appeals.  The city is refunding $50,000 in property taxes from 2022 and 2023 because the houses on the properties in question were demolished. In one case, Hillcrest Lodge, the tax status changed.

Following that are deputations. The first is by Sergeant Lisa Rotar, of the OPP’s municipal policing bureau to talk about how other City is charged for service.

Ontario municipalities pay about 33% of the cost of policing the OPP does. The province picks up the rest of tab for a range of things like traffic enforcement, criminal investigations, covert and anti-terrorism operations, tactical response and police dogs.

According to the OPP’s figures, the total bill starts with a base amount calculated on the number of properties (which amounts to labour costs), plus a per call amount.  Orillia’s 2023 bill breakdown is $2.6 million for the base cost, plus an estimate of $5.6 million charged per call, and other costs (over time, court security, etc.) making a total of $$8.7 million.

The total is adjusted at year end because of the per call charge. Orillia hgas received refunds in the past. The townships (Oro-Medonte ($2.8 million), Ramara ($1.7 million), and Severn ($2.2 million) also contribute to the cost of the Orillia detachment.

Orchard Park Public School Walk Zone

The next deputation is from a group from Orchard Park Public School called On The Move, who have been investigating active transportation routes in the neighbourhoods around the school. Charlotte Knegt of the SMDHU, vice principle Jennifer Viherjoki, and parent Rob Currie (community member & parent) will outline a number of things they would like to see changed so kids will have a safer walk to school.

They would like a crosswalk installed at Park and Calverley Streets, a sidewalk on the south side of Fittons Road, a sidewalk on South Street with a path connecting to Park Street, a bike lane on Park, school zone signs and moving the speed limit signs on Calverley so people can see them, and better year round maintenance of walking paths (especially in Carmichael Park – shortcut saves 15 minutes walking time for a number of students) including snow removal.

They say the combination of those things will improve safety, reduce traffic congestion around the school and encourage parents to not drive their kids to school.

Closed Session

Council then goes behind closed doors to discuss two items. One is a report from the CAO regarding the fire department. The other is from corporate services about compensation for exempt employees (those not in the union, management).


When council goes public, the first report they have on the agenda is from the Commemorative Awards Committee asking for waiver of the by-law for one time for awards in 2023 for the Hall of Fame and the Order of Orillia as a catch up measure.

Since COVID there is a backlog of nominations. The Order of Orillia (last class in 2021) currently has 5 nominations, four of which the committee say meet the criteria. The Hall of Fame (last inductees in 2018) has seven nominations of which 5 are eligible.

Next, at the September 11 meeting, council asked Mayor McIsaac to contact MPP Jill Dunlop regarding a quote in 2022 from her that traffic lights would be installed at Atherley and Orchard Point Roads ahead of the recommendation for the City’s consultant lights be installed by 2026.

The MTO still insists, as of August 2023, conditions do not meet requirements for installation.

Mayor McIsaac does not state in the report details of any discussion with Dunlop, but said he will have a verbal report at this meeting.

Next, a report for the CAO, which may have relevance to the closed session item about the fire department, asks council to OK a review of the fire department.

The issue is staffing. Recently it was revealed station number 2 on Commerce Drive has not been staffed at times, mostly due to sick time.  

Both fire stations were built where they are according to provincial standards and regulations regarding response times.

The report also asks council to approve temporary measures to reallocate items in the 2023 budget to allow for $150,000 more for overtime, and an amount for the study of up to $100,000.

The CAO has already authorized the chief to hire three contract firefighters, and to increase the volunteer contingent for 20 to 30.

Consent Agenda

Items here pass with one vote, unless pulled for discussion and a separate vote.  Items include correspondence and reports for the previous council meetings. Usually there are few items of note or carrying new information.

One is a report from last meeting’s closed session relating to the sale of land in the Horne Business Park. In recent years the identities of buyers appears to be a state secret and so too the sale prices. At least this time we know that a construction developer, Montfort Developments of Toronto, is the buyer, and the price is $504,032 per acre. However, the acreage of the two lots in question is not mentioned.

What the developments will be is unknown. Montfort appears to be a builder of commercial properties for others.

Enquiry Motions

There are four. Councillor Jay Fallis has one asking staff to prepare for budget a report to move a bus stop from the corner of Monarch Drive and West Ridge Boulevard, closer to West Ridge Park.

He and Councillor Janet-Lynne Durnford have a request for a report of the, “feasibility and costs associated with installing and providing daily sanitation of four portable toilets, as well as establishing a regular garbage pick-up schedule near larger encampment sites located throughout the City”

Councillor Luke Leatherdale wants a report to change the recently adopted new council procedure, “to permit speakers to address Council on matters that do not appear on the current meeting agenda.”

He also has a second motion that staff report on the feasibility of making Mary and Douglas Streets a four way stop.

Council meetings can be watched on the City’s Youtube Channel – live, or at any time afterward.

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

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