CKL COUNCIL COVERS MUCH GROUND
By Kirk Winter
The CKL Council meeting held on March 26 covered considerable ground in only an hour and 15 minutes.
Councillor O’Reilly shared that the 1st Annual Spotlight on Agriculture Dinner was a huge success with 375 for dinner and another 100 on the waitlist for tickets. This celebration of agriculture in CKL will hopefully run every year and, based on this year’s level of interest, the organizers better find a larger venue.
Councillor Ashmore announced that he will be hosting a number of local meetings throughout Ward 6 beginning in the late spring to take the pulse of his constituents. Ashmore mentioned that he hopes to host events in Pleasant Point, Dunsford, Omemee and other communities where facilities exist for this kind of public event. Ashmore will be solo at some of these events while at others the Mayor and/or Deputy Mayor will attend.
Jay Allen from Shield Storage Centre presented a deputation to Council regarding the issue of development fees on his new facility at 221 Main Street in Bobcaygeon.
With the support of Ward 2 Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan, Allen presented his case.
The City is in the middle of a review of development charges that promises to be complete by next fall. Allen is hoping that his storage facility build, currently deemed to be a commercial venture for the purposes of development charges, will be reconsidered along with all other self-storage facilities as industrial property once the review is complete.
The change in development charges if this change occurs could be significant for Allen so he proposed to Council the following options:
He pays his development charge next fall when the new laws are in place
He pays his development charge immediately but at the lower industrial rate
Allen made it clear that he is “not looking to avoid paying his development fees, but wants an opportunity in the spring to plead his case before the Development Fees Task Force, hoping to get all self-storage builds to be considered as industrial property.”
Deputy Mayor Elmslie asked if Allen was truly willing to pay the lower developmental charge immediately, and asked City staff why they wouldn’t accept his money now. Staff responded “that it would be far cleaner a process to defer the payment of development charges until the Task Force had issued their report and a policy for the future had been determined.”
Seymour-Fagan reiterated to Council that “Allen was a good and reputable builder who has done everything the City has asked him to do at the Bobcaygeon property since 2017, including installing a fire hydrant at a cost of $150,000.”
Council debated the deputation later on in the meeting and unanimously approved a development fee deferral until the new legislation is written sometime in late 2019.
Thurstonia Park Docks
Councillor Ashmore extracted this issue for discussion. Ashmore asked for any City decision to be held in abeyance until there was a chance for a public meeting in Thurstonia once the bulk of the population was back for the summer.
Ashmore said “the community is split on the new fees for docking, with some upset at the increase and others anxious to get their fee paid and insurance in place for the beginning of the boating season in late May.”
Council agreed unanimously to put the decision off regarding the status of docks in Thurstonia until a public meeting can be held involving most of the summer residents.
Black River Road Waterfront Road Allowance Sale
Councillor Yeo asked if staff could bring back a report on this issue at the June 25 meeting for Council to discuss. Between now and then, it will give Yeo and others a chance to visit the property without snow cover to meet with all the residents potentially affected by this sale.
Council approved of this proposal unanimously.
Councillors, staff and members of the cultural community have met since the Council of the Whole meeting, and there has been a change in plans.
All parties involved “have agreed to a feasibility study about a centre or centres to be built sometime in the future based on a report prepared by a qualified consultant.”
The City has agreed to budget in the 2020 Budget $100,000 as their share of the study. Councillors Seymour-Fagan and Richardson will represent the City on this project moving forward.
Everyone involved in this project “has agreed to go slow and that whatever final decisions are made must fit within the Cultural Master Plan passed by the City.”
Council passed this plan unanimously.
Trail By-Laws and Side-by-Side ATVs
Council asked staff to bring back bylaw changes that would give side by side ATVs more access to sections of the Victoria Rail Trail and allow them some level of highway access that would allow them to use Fenelon Falls as a location for refueling, food and lodgings.
Deputy Mayor Elmslie asked that the by-law changes be expedited and brought back to the Council meeting in April.
The motion was passed unanimously by Council.
Old Gaol Museum Lease
Council asked staff to prepare a new lease for the Victoria County Historical Society for the Old Gaol Museum.
Councillor Ashmore expressed concerns that the current collection at the museum is threatened by lack of proper environmental controls in the 170-year-old building.
Director Shanks, responsible for the Museum, agreed with the Councillor and said that 'environmental controls currently paid for by the Historical Society are not ideal.”
Council approved unanimously that a new lease for the Society be prepared.
Councillor Ashmore wanted to know from City staff when the Innovation Cluster would begin to operate in CKL in a more serious manner than it is right now. Ashmore thought the program was a great endeavour and the sooner they begin their work the better.
Councillor Veale shared with Ashmore that “based on a recent meeting with Economic Development, they are hoping for a far larger presence of the Innovation Cluster people in CKL by June 2019.”
Reduced Number of Council Meetings
Councillor Dunn spoke very strongly against the reduction in the number of regular Council meetings fearing that “if something comes up in the month between meetings the issue may have become more serious than it needed to be.”
Dunn said if the City was going to reduce meetings they should be looking at reducing Special Council and Committee of the Whole meetings.
Mayor Letham spoke very strongly in favour of the reduction of meetings stating:
Verbal updates can be received by the City and acted upon in many different ways.
A Council piece can be added to the end of a Committee of the Whole meeting if need arises.
Existing meeting dates can be adjusted so the City doesn’t miss any important timelines.
Dunn called for a recorded vote on the issue. Councillors Dunn, Yeo and Ashmore voted in favour of keeping more Council meetings while the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors Richardson, Seymour-Fagan, O’Reilly and Veale voted to support the idea of fewer meetings.
Surplus City Property
A discussion and a vote was had about changing the status of a number of City-owned properties from surplus to not for sale.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of changing the status of the properties to publicly owned, but Councillor Yeo wanted to know what the process would be for surplusing the properties again in the future if their surplus status had been previously revoked.
No one including the City Solicitor was quite sure what the answer would be.
Mayor Letham suggested that “the property would be treated as never having been surplused, and typical City policy regarding its sale would be followed.”
High Water Charge Rebates
Two properties applied to CKL for a one-time-only 50 percent rebate of their monthly water bill when landlords discovered that tenants at these properties had run astronomically high bills.
The properties, at 56 King Street in Lindsay and 22 Elliot Street in Fenelon Falls, are both income properties with multiple renters. The City committee responsible for hearing these requests granted the 50 percent rebates based on the evidence presented.
Mayor Letham had a problem with the rebates stating that “we seem to be approving every single high water bill request, and the policy says that we don’t rebate landlords. This is not our issue. It is up to the landlord.”
Councillor Dunn responded saying that “unfortunately the committee has established precedent for landlords that they felt were deserving.”
Dunn added that “these landlords are not making a fortune, and we should help them out.”
Councillor O’Reilly spoke against the rebate as a former landlord saying that “when this happened at his properties it was a cost of doing business and he and his partners absorbed the costs. It is up to the landlord to make sure his taps aren’t left running.”
Mayor Letham stated again that he “opposed the rebate to landlords, and those other users of the City water services shouldn’t be asked to help landlords.”
A vote was held and the Mayor’s position carried 5 to 4.