By John Swartz
Orillia council meets at 2 p.m. Monday in the newly renovated chambers at City Hall. After the opening formalities, including the public forum, council will have a closed session. There is only one item item on the closed agenda and it is about an organization review.
When they return they have three reports next on their list. A traffic study of Westmount Blvd, focusing on the intersection of Monarch, and the area between Hunter Valley Road and University Avenue shows there are some problems.
The report council has is about the Monarch intersection and staff would like council to approve staff work on a report back to council about solutions. The intersection has had 40 collisions between 2018 to 2023 and is the highest count in the City. Fixes might include redesign or reconstruction, and staff also say a red light camera might be in the cards.
The City is hosting the annual Ontario Small Municipalities Conference at the end of April. Staff want approval to spend $12,000 which will come from the Municipal Accommodation Tax revenue.
Next, the HVAC system at City Hall is more than 20 years old, Staff are having a hard time getting replacement parts and an audit of the system recommend total replacement (estimated to be $391,000). The investigation revealed some components are due for replacement before failure.
Council approved a budget of $460,000 in 2023 for the project, but the best bid, from Johnson Controls, was higher than the budget and staff would like council to increase the budget by $80,000.
Among the items is a letter from the Mariposa Folk Festival staff would like forwarded to council committee. The festival is proposing some ideas to improve traffic flow and safety in and around Tudhope Park.
The big issue they have is the arrival of campers on the Thursday before the festival, which backs up those going into the park on to Atherley Road and the Highway 12 bypass.
They are changing the delivery of all else to Wednesday and adding volunteers to direct campers. They would like council to allow volunteers who are also camping to be able to do so starting on Wednesday, which would take those people out of the congestion equation on Thursday.
They would like to be able to close the right lane of Atherley from Couchiching Point Road to the park entrance for part of Thursday to stack campers entering the park.
They would also like the City to allow the festival shuttle bus to be able to take on and discharge passengers on Collins Drive (near Atherley) and create a stop in the East Bound Lanes of Atherley. This would speed up the frequency of shuttle runs; currently the shuttles go into the park and have to find a spot to turn around, which slows them down. The festival people say this would increase use of the shuttle and lower the number of people driving to the park.
They would also like the City to add a bus to Orillia Transit during the festival, with a stop at Atherley and the by-pass, to encourage people to leave their cars at home.
There are two items pulled from other agendas for staff direction. One is a request from the City of Sudbury for councils to endorse their motion to have the province amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to clarify the definition of employer. The issue stems from a construction accident where the City was held partially liable as owners of a property for the acts of the contractor (which in the case resulted in a death) for which they had no control of.
The court judgment held since the City had inspectors on the job they were also responsible. This is absurd in a way. Municipalities have their own inspectors on hand to ensure the quality of the work being done and local regulations are followed – not for safety. That is, making sure they are getting what is being paid for. This is a case of municipalities having deeper pockets and the net result will be cause significant changes to how capital projects are contracted (and likely add to costs).
Counicllor Fallis wants council to reverse a staff decision to reject a deputation request from the Orillia Rowing Club. The club wants to address the various development fees attached to a proposal to build a club house in Kitchener Park. The club currently has a building and lake access in Tudhope Park they are outgrowing.
The club says the additional fees are adding $140,000 to the budget of $250,000 of the building construction. The club has raised $100,000 so far and is applying for a Trillium Grant; they believe they will have the $250,000 this year. They say the additional $140,000 works against the net benefit to the City of having such a facility and would like all associated development fees and charges waived. If not they say the project may have to be cancelled.
The City also wants the club to pay for paving the parking lot adjacent to the building site, which the club says they have no way of controlling who uses the lot. They also say in light of current climate and water runoff philosophy, maybe paving is not such a good idea.
Councillors Jay Fallis and Jeff Czetwerzuk have a motion to have staff do a report prior to the 2025 budget meetings about the feasibility and cost of establishing community safety zones on Bass Lake Side Road, Stone Ridge Boulevard (from University to Orion).
The same councillors have another motion for staff to provide options to revise the City’s traffic calming policy with the intent of reducing the criteria for making changes to slow down traffic in certain areas.
In by-laws, the City is getting into textile recycling and have a by-law authorizing setting up donation boxes at the waste diversion site. Also coming this year is a dedicated pick up of textiles for recycling. This new aspect of recycling is not meant to replace people donating old clothing to charities, but is meant to recover the things not suitable for reuse as clothing.
Council meetings are open to the public or can be watched on the City’s Youtube channel.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)