By John Swartz
When Orillia council begins its 2 p.m. meeting on Monday, it will almost immediately move to a closed session because there are no deputations or presentations. The only delay would be because of anyone speaking during the public forum part of the agenda.
In closed session they have two items. One is about negotiations for a new contract with fire fighters. The other is about new appointments to the Orillia Power Generation Corp. board. The current chair, Greg Gee, is retiring at the end of December. For more about his retirement see the story here. Along with this discussion will some about the shareholder declaration.
When they return to meet in public there are only 4 reports on the agenda.
The motion with the first report from the environmental advisory committee asking council to write the province is to have the province create regulation to limit phosphorus runoff into Lake Simcoe to 55% of current levels. Several other councils in the watershed area of the lake have already done so.
Phosphorus is used in fertilizer and runoff from farms is the critical mass of runoff. That doesn’t mean runoff from communities isn’t concerning. Excess phosphorus causes algae blooms and weed growth and reduces oxygen in the lake for whitefish and lake trout. It’s one of the reasons Orillia is in the early stages of diverting stormwater to some form of treatment.
It’s also why the City spent $15 million (initial budget) for a third stage of filtering for waste water. The province required all treatment plants around Lake Simcoe to spend similar amounts (proportional to plant capacity) for upgrades even though the amount of phosphorus getting into the lake from municipalities pales in comparison to what gets into the lake from farms.
When the province released the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in 2009, they set a target of 44 tonnes annual of runoff, which is 55% below the levels then. There was not, and in 14 years have not come up with, a plan to get there. Since then the amount going into the lake has gone up 26% (data to 2020).
Rec Centre Next Step
Council has a report asking for a new date from the Orillia Recreation Centre working group to report on it’s investigation of the next step for development at the West Street facility. The working group includes Mayor Don, McIsaac and councillors Cipolla, Leatherdale and Czetwerzuk. They were to report at this meeting.
The prime component would be an arena. At budget earlier this month council approved $12 million for renovations to Brian Orser Arena. The new date asked for is January 29. So far they have input from group users like Orillia Minor Hockey.
Can You Spare A Dime
Council has a report asking council to approve a 20-year debenture of $6.8 million for Laclie Street reconstruction and a 10-year, $2.4 million debenture for Centennial Drive. At the same time council will give authority for the mayor, CAO and treasurer to be signing officers.
The Laclie Street debenture is for phase one currently underway and staff note the remainder of the project, $29 million, will also, in part, be funded with debentures. The debenture in question here for Centennial Drive is for the third phase of the project (connecting Coldwater Street to Centennial). This project already has $10.7 million of debentures in use.
With the inclusion of the above the total amount of debt the City will have at the end of 2023 is $20.7 million on projects totalling $30.3 million.
The province enacted the Community Safety and Policing Act in 2019, but it is not in force yet. It is expected to be spring before it is. When that happens all contracts for service with the OPP will be abolished and municipalities have to make new agreements.
The current agreement ends December 31, 2023, which means there will be a gap. Council needs to approve a new agreement under the new rules and staff are advising a one year term
The main change for Orillia is the Orillia Police Services Board will also be abolished and new boards will be attached to OPP detachments instead of municipalities. That means the surrounding townships will have equal representation on the board.
The Rest Of The Story
There are no other reports or motions of any kind on the agenda. Among the by-laws of note there is one to allow for the debt financing noted above, and one to receive $601,178 from the province’s Dedicated Gas Tax Fund; this money goes toward the Orillia Transit budget.
The meeting takes place at the Opera House and is open to the public. It can also be watched on the City’s Youtube channel.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)