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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

Council Chamber News – February, 2015

As we fall into a deep freeze (hopefully the last cold blast before spring), the monetary position of the Town, and more importantly your services and taxes, are being debated before Council and staff.

The budget started on a very positive note in January with a proposed increase in the Town levy at around 2.85%. Council is advised that the County is (was) proposing a -1.56% increase indicating a blended tax rate of less than 1.0%. However, as we approach the middle of February, the Town’s levy is slowly working itself up to 4.0% (3.74% so far).

Three matters still remain outstanding that may impact a greater than 4.0% Town levy: 1) the hiring of three more employees (two in Engineering and one in Planning) which will be subject to a pending Development Application Review Process; 2) road assumption and regular maintenance of the Thunderhill Subdivision roads; and 3) the reconstruction of 33rd Sideroad and a portion 10th Line to County Road 113. These three items could add another 2.07% to the tax levy, if approved as proposed. So for those of you already adding, the total levy could be around 5.81% and result in a blended rate in the 1.5-2.0% range.

Are you still with me? If not, you need to attend a Public Information Session on March 23rd between 6.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. and a Public Meeting on the same date at 7.00 p.m.

Oh, by the way, there will be no increase in your water and wastewater fixed and variable rates.

Here are some other recent developments over the past month:

1)         Council has directed Town Planning staff to pursue funding of $25,000 from the Province of Ontario’s Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program that will help plan services and programs that enable seniors live in a secure environment, enjoy good health and participate more fully in their communities.

Some of the needs can eventually lead to local improvements such as installing automatic doors, adding accessible benches and picnic tables in parks and beaches, increasing accessibility to retail businesses and installing count-down timers at busy intersections/crosswalks.

Larger needs could include healthy community designs, active transportation/transit system, access to more robust services and programs, and access to nature programs that support healthy living.

2)         Council has directed the CAO, Troy Speck, to spend up to $40,000 (from 2014 surplus) to retain a strategic planning facilitator to review the 2005 strategic vision, mission statement, goals and actions with the idea of incorporating any goals identified in the Sustainable Path and the themes identified by the members of the new Council i.e. ‘Open for Business’ Economic Development; better planning and development; improving Town/County arrangements; and improving communications. (See LINK).

3)         Grey County says they are ‘open for business’ and have crafted a ‘Made in Grey’ Economic Development Strategy formed around 7 themes: Becoming Investment Ready; Creating a Business Friendly Environment; Ensuring Key Infrastructure is in Place; Developing Grey’s Workforce; Better Communication and marketing Grey’s Greatness; Tourism; and, Agriculture, farms and Local Food. This is an important read (LINK).

4)         Council has approved an application by the Director of Community Services, Shawn Everitt, for the 2015 Bicycle Friendly Community Program, which is sponsored by the Share the Road Coalition. The Coalition is a provincial advocacy organization working to build a bicycle-friendly Ontario. Application in this Program is an opportunity to identify work that has been completed and also work that is underway to enhance cycling and support the Town and the Region as a cycling destination.

Things to Look for:

1)         A Thornbury Farmers Market (formerly the Clarksburg Farmers Market) to operate on Sundays from 11.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. starting June 7th to October 11, 2015 on the Smith Memorial Open Space between the Town Hall and Pipers restaurant.

2)         Possibly a new ‘Fish Ladder Experience’. The Town and the Thornbury BIA have successfully received funding from RT07 to hire a consultant to help develop a visitor experience around the Thornbury Fish Ladder. This will be an opportunity for a professional assessment of the fish ladder and it’s possible connectivity to other attractions of the Town, with the hope of drawing more visitors to our community.

Town Update: 

1)         The Blue Mountains Collingwood Public Transit Link (a partnership that includes the Blue Mountain Resort/Village Association) continues to improve with 22,693 riders in 2014 or approximately 1,890 per month, which is more than double what had been identified in the business plan (750 riders per month). Based on Gas Tax Funding and increased ridership, the total net cost to the Town (or contribution) over the next three years is expected to be only $18,000 per annum.

Upcoming Events:

1)         A Council Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday February 18th, 2015 at 7.00 p.m.

2)         A public workshop on Tuesday February 17th at 2.00 p.m. at the Town Hall, regarding the Grey County Transportation Master Plan (LINK). It is important to understand the potential effects of downloading certain roads and bridges to our Town. What are the financial implications?

3)         An Public Open Session on February 23rd at   2.00 p.m. at the Town Hall to provide background information on a proposed 242 unit residential Windfall development at the northwest corner of Grey Road 19 and Grey Road 21.