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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Council Chamber News – December, 2014

Well, the fun and games of being on Council have now started with my first Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday afternoon (December 8th).

After 4 hours of listening, discussion and debate, here’s my summary of what happened:

1)         The CAO Troy Speck provided a brief orientation on the role and responsibilities of his office, while his senior management staff Corrina Giles, Tracey McKenna and Elizabeth Cornish outlined their roles and responsibilities in the Clerk’s Department, Human Resources and Communication and Economic Development, respectively. Ruth Prince, Manager of Revenue and Acting Director of Finance& IT, followed with a summary of activities in the Finance and Information Technology departments. She’s also in charge of the dreaded “2015 BUDGET”.

2)         The CAO, Troy Speck, met with each new member of Council to discuss their goals and priorities over the next 4 years and four (4) theme areas were developed: a) Economic Development, Customer Service & whether the Town is perceived as being ‘Open for Business’ b) Planning and Development, c) Changing the County/Town Financial Arrangement, and d) Communication & Council Process. Staff have been requested to provide a summary of ongoing and planned projects and initiatives, by January 12th, 2015, that relate to these themes to help establish realistic goals and action plans for the term of Council. (Link for more details)

3)         The CAO requested approval to enter into a new contract with the OPP for police services for the next 6 years. The 2015 cost will be $2,703,345, which is $210,695 less than had been included for policing cost in the Town’s 3-year budget process. Although the Town has the option to cancel the agreement with one year’s notice, there is still some question regarding the term of 6 years and the uncertainty regarding salaries and benefits beyond the year 2015. My recommendation was for a 4 year contract but the majority voted in favour of the 6 year contract. (Link for more details).

4)         Council approved a $750 premium increase to the Municipal Insurance Policy that would protect all volunteers working on the Town’s behalf. This is in addition to the Facility User Group Insurance which allows the Town to provide liability insurance coverage for small clubs/groups using Town facilities that may not have insurance or sufficient insurance of their own. This is good news.

5)         The Fire Department received approval to purchase a new open cab pumper vehicle in 2015 at a cost of $390,000., Apparently, the old one is out-of-date and non-compliant (NFPA), despite low mileage and being in good condition. Taxation will pay for most of it – this will impact the 2015 budget.

6)         The County of Grey is requesting comments from the Town regarding their Draft Transportation Plan- Strategic Action Plan by February 13, 2015. Staff recommended an extension and an information workshop with Council for this important and complex document. TBM ratepayers are requested to comment on this Plan (Link) and hopefully attend this workshop – I will provide an update.

7)         The Georgian View Estates Association presented a letter to Council requesting that the Town remove ‘unwanted’ guardrails that were installed on Indian Circle (Letter). The residents claim that the guardrails were installed without any public engagement and/or communication. They argue that guardrails were not warranted on their local street and that a reduction in speed limit from 50 km/hr to 40 km/hr would have mitigated any perceived dangers involving the location of a small creek bed and associated slopes. They also argue that the Town has no liability for accidents occurring on this roadway, in accordance with the Municipal Act. Staff has been requested to examine the issue of liability, lowering the speed limit and removal of the guardrails and report back to Council.

8)         The proposed Sleepy Hollow West development was brought back to the Council Committee of the Whole for reconsideration ( LINK). The applicant’s planning consultant provided a slideshow outlining his reasons for reconsideration and more importantly, a proposed alternate development of 10 smaller lots that would involve more open space and buffer area that would be more acceptable to the surrounding residents. The previous Council passed a resolution to support a 21% open space and parkland dedication parcel south of Salzburg, A 2/3 affirmative vote (5 votes) by the new Council was required to reconsider the alternative option. The decision to reconsider was defeated by 3 for and 4 against vote. I voted for reconsideration. This may not be over yet.

Upcoming Events:

1)         Council Meeting this Monday December 15th, 2014 at 7.00 p.m. The Agenda should be posted on the Town website by Friday December 12th.

2)         Remember Old Fashion Christmas this Saturday December 13th, 2014. Many great events are planned and make sure to drop into the shops and say hello (Link).

3)         The first 2015 Budget Workshops are scheduled for January 28th and 30th, 2015 starting at 9.00 a.m.