Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia councillors may be able to get through their April 8 agenda in time to see the eclipse, but based on past experience with light agendas the smart money is on they’re going to miss it.

They have a public planning meeting starting at 1 p.m. It’s only for housekeeping amendments to the Official Plan and zoning by-laws; the kinds of things where staff have discovered mapping errors, to include changes necessary because the province radically changed the rules with Bill 23, or to make adjustments that fit with other policies council has adopted (such as those in the Affordable Housing Action Plan).

It’s worth noting the City is currently in the process of updating the entire Official Plan as required every 5 years, so the items being discussed here are stepping stones to bringing the Official Plan up to date.

A major change is an amendment to permit churches to also have a housing component with, all the benefits of new developers, to erect, or include all types of housing, including apartments up to 8-stories, and another is to reduce the amount of parking required in the downtown core for government or non-profit housing.

There are some definition changes as they relate to electric vehicle and charging stations, and to the size of garages. The latter is an issue specifically designed to address development in the West Ridge where the size of garages are not big enough to be able to park vehicles inside of as intended. Going down the road the hope is with new construction some of the parking and street clogging issues will be eliminated.

Council Agenda

When the planning meeting is finished, council will move directly to the bi-weekly council agenda. There are no presentations or deputations, which means once approval of minutes (a blip in runtime) and the open public forum, council will move into a closed session.

The closed agenda has only one item, to make appointments to boards and committees.

When council returns to public, They have a report from staff related to a feasibility study of developing and implementing an Orillia Home Energy Savings Program. Staff and a steering committee have been looking into this subject since last May with the help of consultants, Dunsky Energy and Climate Advisors.

This report reflects what they have found which is to recommended creating a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program. essentially the City becomes a lender for upgrading and renovating if the goal is to reduce energy use and green house gas emissions.

Amounts loaned would become repayable over time as part of property tax add ons. While staff think this is feasible (it’s not new, Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston and Peterborough already do something similar), they do not recommend pursuing this objective for a number of reasons.

First, they estimate the cash outlay could be in the range of $738,000 to $2,615,000 in the first 4 years depending on how much residents use it. It would only apply to single and semi-detached houses, while staff think other property types also need some kind of help. They also state there other programs from other levels of government and energy companies people could use, if they knew about them, and there would be a need for more staff.

Instead staff say that money would only result in a 0.6% reduction in green house gas emissions if 200 projects were approved by 2030, so it is not cost effective. They want council to approve reallocating $75,000 from the 20224 budget on this item for use to keep looking at alternatives such as developing an in house program to aggregate and disseminate information of existing grants and financing programs and to develop a consulting function for those who want to do upgrades regarding methods to use new technology and steps to finance. Along with that the City could, with a lower budget, create a $500 rebate for specific energy upgrade components. Staff say no additional staff would be required for those things and they could start doing those things almost immediately.

The rest of the agenda involves ratifying previous council decisions and the committee report from the last meetings. Regarding the committee report, council will not be installing sidewalks and a new crosswalk on Fittons Road, and updates the Clean and Clear by-law clarifying what is a natural landscape and maintenance requirements – this is good for property owners.


There are 3 enquiry motions. One is from councillors Janet-Lynne Durnford and Jay Fallis asking for a report to – “Options and opportunities to streamline the process and reduce costs for community groups to apply for special event/fireworks permits.” This relates to the last item of this overview.

Next is from Fallis and councillor Jeff Czetwerzuk for a report on the cost and revenues to allow overnight parking at Walter Henry Park, West Ridge Park, Clayt French Park during the winter parking restriction period. It’s not stated, but is likely related to the planning changes above to require garage sizes be increased so people don’t have to park on the street.

Counicllor Luke Leatherdale has a motion for staff to report on – “Options, opportunities, costs, potential revenues, and impacts of leasing vacant space within municipally owned properties such as, but not limited to, the Orillia Public Library and the Port of Orillia for commercial purposes.”

As is usual with enquiry motions there are no accompanying reports speaking to the reasons for enquiry motions.


Of particular significance, council has a motion to enact a Fireworks by-law that prohibits the use of fireworks at any time, except by permission of council and only to be used in Couchiching Beach Park. The new by-law also creates an administrative fee to investigate occurrences.

Previously staff recommended allowing fireworks on specific dates (holidays), which council seemed to be sympathetic to by approving the recommendation at the last council meeting, so this is a big change and keeps the ban already in place under the noise by-law. This change shifts the regulation from the noise by-law to a new by-law regulating fireworks and means using fireworks at residences is prohibited.

Council meetings are open to the public or can be watched on the City’s Youtube channel.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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