City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for March 21’s Meeting?

It what’s sure to be an action-packed meeting, the agenda for the March 21 city council meet will run the gambit of committee reports from water, to business licenses, to Victoria Road Recreation Centre, to street signs, to renovations.

Closed Meeting – Two items are on the agenda for the closed portion of the meeting, one is the ongoing negotiations with the Guelph Storm and leasing the Sleeman Centre, and the other has to do with the contract of Chief Administrative Officer Ann Pappert.
Corporate Services Committee, Outstanding Motions of the Corporate Services Committee – A review of the motions completed and the motions still outstanding from the committee. The finished motions will be removed, and an item about “a comprehensive review of the City’s strategic real estate needs,” will be referred to the Deputy CAO, Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services to report to IDE Committee.

Corporate Services Committee, Tax Ratios – 2016 – Over the last couple of years, two independent third party reports have provided a review of the City’s current tax ratios and how they compare to other similar municipalities. The result: “The general observation is that Guelph is sitting in the midrange with its commercial, industrial and multi-residential class tax ratios.” But with new reassessments on the horizon starting next year, staff is recommending that it’s illogical to alter the direction of the tax ratio policy for now, and the reduction of the multi-residential and industrial ratios will continue through 2016. The multi-residential ratio be reduced from 2.0399 to 1.9979; the industrial tax ratio be reduced from 2.3111 to 2.2048; and all other class ratios and vacancy discounts remain the same as 2015.

Governance Committee, Governance Options Regarding the County of Wellington’s Social Services Committee – A report that will recount the occasionally turbulent history of the relationship between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington, and will also suggest a direction for potential re-engagement between the two on a number of issues “including but not limited to economic development initiatives/ social services delivery and planning/ intergovernmental collaboration and source water protection.” There is currently a working relationship between the County and the City, but staff is aiming to formalize that more.

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, Stormwater Funding Study – The point of the study was to try and find a way to provide the City’s stormwater management a secure source of funding for the long-term; as it stands, there’s “an approximate annual funding gap of $4.1 million currently exists between the actual service level and a sustainable level of service,” according to a staff report. The study will recommend that the City transition “from a tax funded service to a dedicated variable user fee based on impervious area be approved.” Staff will also have to come up with an implementation strategy including creating a viable user fee, a phasing schedule, and the development of a credit program and policy “to allow for property owners the opportunity to reduce fees through the implementation of on-site stormwater measures.”

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, Backflow Prevention By-law – These are proposed amendments to the Backflow Prevention By-law to incorporate recent changes in the Ontario Building Code and reflect current industry standards and best practices. What’s “backflow prevention”? Let’s just say it’s what stops what goes down the drain from coming back through the tap. Building Services staff looked 25 backflow prevention devices in various facilities for five years, and have come to the conclusion that “certain minor hazard locations” need only be inspected every five years as opposed to annually without compromising water safety. The move could save the City $25,000 per year. Further amendments address residential properties that contain an “auxiliary water supply” (i.e. a private well), an allowance for property owners to use their own qualified employees to perform most functions of the program, and a new mechanism were the City can charge for minor violations in lieu of immediately shutting off the water supply is also included.

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, 2015 Annual and Summary Water Services Report – As mandated by the province, this is a “compilation of information that demonstrates to the water system owner and all stakeholders the ongoing delivery of an adequate and safe supply of drinking water to customers located within the City of Guelph Drinking Water System (Guelph DWS) and the Gazer Mooney Subdivision Distribution System (Gazer Mooney SDS, located in the Township of Guelph/Eramosa).” All things considered, it seems that we’re doing pretty good. The report ranks Water Services as delivering “a high level of regulatory compliance” and that it “fulfilled its mandate to deliver both an adequate and safe supply of drinking water to its customers in the City of Guelph and Guelph/Eramosa Township.” Guelph scored a 88.69 per cent from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, while Gazer Mooney SDS received 100 per cent.

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, Sign By-law Variances – 299 Scottsdale Drive – Sifton Properties wants a new sign and it’s bigger than the Sign By-Law proviso of 3m2 for the size of the sign and a height of 1.8m above the road. Sifton is looking to install an illuminated freestanding sign that’s 7.4m2 and a height of 2.7m above the adjacent roadway, which the City is cool with because of a previous sign variance, the sign won’t be flashing or animating, and it will not have a “negative impact on the streetscape or surrounding area.”

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, Sign By-law Variances – 102 Wyndham Street North – BioPed would like a slightly bigger sign, but the Sign By-Law “restricts a sign that is perpendicular to a building face to the first storey of a building and to a maximum sign face of 0.6m2 in the Central Business District (CBD) Zone” AKA: Downtown. The new BioPed sign will be 0. 74m2, double-faced, and be “perpendicular to the building on the second storey of 102 Wyndham Street North.” The move gets the City’s okay because there’s no extra lighting involved, the sign won’t detract from the building’s appearance, and, most importantly, it will help people find BioPed.

Infrastructure, Development & Enterprise Committee, Heritage Redevelopment Reserve Grant Application for 15 Wyndham Street North (Petrie Building) – City staff is recommending to council to approve a grant from the Heritage Redevelopment Reserve to contribute to the “stabilization and repair of the historic front façade of the Petrie Building.” According to the City, “funds from the Heritage Redevelopment Reserve are used to provide financial assistance to property owners who wish to undertake projects to develop or renovate property that would involve the restoration or refurbishment of heritage elements of the property.” For the Petrie Building and it’s owner, the Tyrcathlen Partners, the limit of what they will receive from the fund is $91,000 over 10 years or $9,100 per year. Where does the City get that number? That’s the expected annual tax increase of the property once renovations are complete and the new commercial and office space in the building become available. The overall facade project cost is expected to cost $300,000. Staff is recommending to approve the funds, obviously.

Public Services Committee, 10 Carden Shared Space: Redevelopment of the Acker’s Furniture Building at 42 Carden Street – A consortium of various Guelph groups – Guelph Arts Council, the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, Out on the Shelf, Wellington Water Watchers, and others – are looking to move the 10 Carden co-working and collaborative shared space from its present home to 42 Carden St., currently the location of Acker’s Furniture. Their initial goal is to raise $400,000 to secure the purchase of the new building and begin renovations, and to do that they’re selling community bonds. Pioneered by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in Toronto to purchase two buildings, think of a Community Bond as a mortgage spread out across many small lenders. The group is asking the City to buy a $50,000 bond that will see an interest rate of 3 per cent, paid semi-annually, with principal to be paid upon maturity of the bond, which is five years from the date of investment.

Public Services Committee, Support for New Refugees – Following up on a council resolution from December, the committee is recommending a one year pilot program to support Syrian refugees arriving in Guelph with monthly passes for each family member for Guelph Transit, a one year family membership to Guelph Museums, and a one year pass for each family member to attend any public swimming or public skating offered by our Recreation Department. The City will work with Immigrant Services and Wellington County Settlement Services to develop a process for validating and approving refugees for the program, subject to Federal guidelines. There will be no direct financial implications, but staff will work with the Finance Department to develop a system for tracking the issuing of the passes.

Public Services Committee, Business License Fees 2016 – Staff is recommending a fee increase of $11.60 (5.02 per cent) for new licences and $14.50 (3.95 per cent) for renewals in 2016. Business licensing fees are calculated on a cost recovery basis; therefore, no additional revenue will be realized from the proposed 2016 business licence fees. What will those look like? Look at the charts below.

Resolution from Township of Gillies Regarding Town of Aurora Council Resolution About Ontario Municipal Board Jurisdiction – Ward 5 Councillor Cathy Downer will speak to this item, a Aurora Town Council resolution asking Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Government of Ontario “to limit the jurisdiction of the Ontario Municipal Board to questions of law or process,” and that the provincial government “require the OMB to uphold any planning decisions of Municipal Councils unless they are contrary to the processes and rules set out in legislation.”

Victoria Road Recreation Centre – Renovation Update – Staff will offer an update on the renovations to the Rec Centre that are scheduled to begin next month. Delegations will also be heard, as well as a petition concerning the loss of the Rec Centre’s sauna and weight room.

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