Council Preview

By John Swartz

The Monday, May 6, Orillia council starts with a presentation to induct 4 people into the Order of Orillia. The recipients are Madeleine Fournier, James “Jim” Saunders, Fayne Bullen, and Richard “Rick” Purcell. There is a reception at 1 p.m. at City Hall anyone can attend. See the previous story for biographical information on the recipients.

Next is a deputation by Pankti Pramthesh Pandya, Taylor Rice, and Michael Barrington of Georgian College, to present findings of their research and present their addictions prevention and public education campaign, Addictions Treatment and Prevention Program.

Next is the public forum, followed by a closed session.

There are 4 items on the closed agenda: 3 relate to property considerations and one is a staffing matter. As usual there is no documentation regarding specifics to each item.

When council returns to meeting in public the first item is a report to approve grants to 4 groups. Three are recommended to receive $1,500 (Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Orillia and District Arts Council, and the Cellar Singers), and a grant of $1,000 to the Born to Read committee.


Council approved $80,000 in the 2024 budget to replace exterior doors at the 12-year-old building. However quotes came back significantly higher than anticipated.

At the same time, ventilation in the programming room in the children’s area has been an issue. The building’s HVAC system can be controlled by area, but not by room. The programming room in question has glass walls and because of the equipment in the room the doors to the rest of the library are kept closed when not in use it gets unbearably hot. Solving the problem was not submitted as a budget item for 2024.

Staff are asking council to rejig the existing budget approval to only replace the doors facing Market Square and to include and adding some way of regulating the temperature in the programming room. The $22,000 cost would become part of the existing budget approval and include the door replacement at one entry. The remaining exterior doors will be taken out and resubmitted for the 2025 budget estimated to be $110,00 to $135,000.

orillia transit

Next, development services and engineering is studying electrification of the transit system, and have a request to increase the budget from $60,000 to $125,000, with the extra funds to come from the transit asset management reserve account.

The study will accomplish a few things. It will help make sure a new transit terminal is built ready for electrification when it happens. It will also guide requirements related to routes (Orillia does not have a flat terrain to work with), and scope the costs to electrify the fleet.

Staff say they have applied for an Infrastructure Canada grant which will cover 80% of the budget, but there is no forecast when approvals will happen. Increasing the budget will insure the study is done whether or not the grant is approved since construction plans for a terminal are moving ahead.

The next item is a report outline financing for road construction for the Inch Farm development. There is no report in the main agenda, with a note the report will be available as an addendum. However, at time of publication this report is still not available.

The City’s treasurer has a report about the state of development charges, specifically account balances to year end 2023.

The bad news is the province’s Bill 23 resulted in $1.88 million in lost development charge revenue. The City created a mitigation reserve with a starting balance of $1.5 million, so this outcome has already created a negative balance.

Staff report the province’s new Cutting Red Tape to Build More Houses (Bill 185), yet to be passed, may provide some opportunities to make changes that favour the City’s development charge health. What will be is not clear yet, since the bill is only at first reading.

The reserve balance has decreased from a negative $12 million in 2019 to negative $24 million in 2023. Staff say this is because of, construction projects before growth materialized and related to roads, water/wastewater servicing, parks, library, and recreation facilities.”

Consent Agenda And The Homestretch

There are several items in the consent agenda. The downtown management board has a few items for street closings for the usual array of events. Of note, Mississaga and Peter Streets will be closed Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m. all summer, and the downtown is jumping in with the chamber of commerce for the Labour Day Pirate Party – Mississaga Street will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 31.

Also, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit sent notice they have completed their budget and the bill to the City is increasing by 4%. Council routinely accounts for the SMDHU lag in budget finalization.

There are no additional motions of any type on the agenda, not even an enquiry motion. A number of by-laws related to formally adopting the 2024 budget are part of this week’s agenda.

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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