City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for April 25’s Meeting?

This looks like it’s going to be a late one. At least three contentious issues are on the docket for Monday’s city council meeting including an Integrity Commissioner report, the end of the standing committee structure, and the renewal of the Community Energy Initiative. And that’s only the beginning of the fun…

Closed Meeting – Solid Waste Resources 2015 Negative Variance; CAO Performance Objectives; Ontario Municipal Board Hearing – 1159 Victoria Road South (Victoria Park Village); City of Guelph Contribution Agreement with Metrolinx; Decision Making: Terms of Reference/Scope – Follow Up on February 29, 2016 matter.
Special Presentation – Dr. Franco Vaccarino, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Guelph will give a presentation about the University’s Strategic Renewal Process and progress of the University’s Economic and Social Impact Study.

Report of the Integrity Commissioner: Complaint Against 5 Members of Council – So you might remember this post. It’s been mentioned along with a post on Guelph Speaks, in a complaint about five councillors bailing on the January 25 council meeting in the Integrity Commissioner’s report. The complaint by unnamed persons is against Phil Allt, Cathy Downer, James Gordon, Leanne Piper, and Mike Salisbury for denying quorum to the meeting, against Allt for a comment made to Guelph Speaks, against Piper for a direct quote mentioned on this site, and against an anonymous source quoted in same.

In his report, Robert Swayze calls the denial of quorum a “political tactic” while he dismissed the complaints against Allt and Piper since their disclosures didn’t reveal confidential information. The anonymous source, meanwhile, “did disclose the substance of the matter and did contravene the Code,” says Swayze. The anonymous source will be asked to identify themselves, but if they don’t, council can ask the Integrity Commissioner to investigate further. FYI: that’s when I may be subpoenaed to offer what I know.

Corporate Services Committee: 2015 Preliminary Year End Operating Variance Report (Unaudited) – So we all watch carefully to see how much money we plan on spending at the beginning of the year, but how much money have we spent by the end? Well, in the case of 2015, it’s kind of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that non-tax supported departments had a surplus of $2,247,819 or 3.8 per cent, plus local boards and outside agencies had a $3.5 million “favourable variance” meaning that’s money they saved. The bad news is that city departments, general revenues and expenditures and capital financing logged a $2,412,468 “unfavourable variance.”

Of course the biggest share of the losses comes from the $2.6 million lost from the recycling plant, but transit also lost $580,000 due mostly to higher than expected maintenance costs. In addition, $177,000 for culture tourism and community investment was lost primarily for “In Flanders Fields” anniversary celebrations; $708,000 more was spent on Operations, mostly overtime and temp staff for road and sidewalk maintenance; and $447,000 for Recreation, Programs and Facilities for higher utility costs and repairing and maintaining aged facilities.

Despite the losses though, in all the preliminary net operating result for tax supported departments was $1,143,123 favorable, meaning that the city put 0.6 per cent back in the bank at the end of the year.

Corporate Services Committee: 2016 Property Tax Policy – At last month’s meeting, council set the new tax ratios for the year, but in this meeting council will look at new options for shortening the time frame to Current Value Assessment (CVA) a measure to simplify and create consistency for property assessments across the province. This year, the Government of Ontario is introducing new options to close that gap sooner, and each year, council must pass a new by-law to establish the capping options. The staff recommendations include a 10 per cent of 2015 annualized taxes o cap across the board for the new limit.

Governance Committee: Corporate Strategic Plan (2012-16) Priority Project Update – In June 2012, city council approved the 2012-2016 Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP) and occasionally they hear updates about the progress of various projects started as a part of it. What kind of projects? How about the Older Adult Strategy, or the Youth Strategy? The User Guide to Local Government? The Open Government Action Plan? The Well-being grant program? Perhaps even Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.? For 2016, the focus is going to be on three areas: City Building (Baker Street/Library Development, Downtown Secondary Plan Implementation, Guelph Innovation District), Innovation in Local Government (Guelph Municipal Holding Company, District Energy Initiative, Financial/Communications Framework), and Organizational Excellence (Performance Measurement and Tracking Scorecards, Integrated Performance Reporting). So far 68 per cent of projects begun are complete or have achieved significant milestones, 28 per cent face internal or external challenges, and four per cent are on hold or have made limited progress. The full list of projects begins on page 85 of the meeting agenda.

Governance Committee: Council Committee Structure–Committee-of-the-Whole – Goodbye standing committee structure! The Governance Committee is going to recommend that council adapt a Committee-of-the-Whole governance structure. What does that mean? “In a Committee-of-the-Whole system, all of Council sits on one committee, the Committee-of-the-Whole, which replaces all of the five member standing committees. The Committee-of-the-Whole meets on a pre-set basis to address items within a themed area (i.e. Corporate Services, Public Services, Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise, Audit or Governance). All members of Council have full voting and speaking rights at the Committee-of-the-Whole.” The theory behind this is it will create efficiency in the meeting structure by eliminating duplication, allowing all of council to access all committee work, and cease frequent late night meetings. If council approves the measure, staff will come back with a report on training and implementation in June, and the new structure will begin in September.

Governance Committee: Community Energy Initiative Update–Proposed Scope – It was one key aspect of the CEI, the Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS), that caused a kerfuffle at a recent committee meeting. This report on the CEI is for information, but it will also direct staff to implement an update to the plan as described within it. Almost 10 years old now, staff is proposing an update to amend gaps in the current strategy, consider new policy and best practices, re-focus the CEI as a community led initiative, and establish new metrics to chart Guelph’s progress and how that progress ranks next to other municipalities. The report also suggests to establish a community-based advisory committee, improve community engagement with a strong interaction with local stakeholders, improve understanding of the changing energy market at various levels, and clarify the roles of Local Government, Local Government Agencies and local stakeholders.

Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Committee: Sign By-law Variances – 197 Hanlon Creek Boulevard – This one’s pretty straight forward. RLB Chartered Accountants want a sign with an area of 10.96m2 on the second storey of their building, which is one square metre bigger than by-law allows. A variance is being sought on the grounds of the size of the building, there will be no impact on the streetscape, and the new sign will not face a residential area.

Public Services Committee: Canada Summer Games 2021 Update and Regional Bid Investigation – The Regional Sport Tourism Office is looking to host 2021 Canada Summer Games as a combined K-W, Cambridge and Guelph operation just five years hence, and they’re looking for our council to endorse the Phase I bid. Currently, the RSTO Steering Committee is doing a preliminary investigation into the feasibility of holding the games in the area, but the Letter of Intent – and the $20,000 submission fee, which is paid by the RSTO – is due on May 20, 2016. The RSTO will then submit required technical information by June 30, and the shortlist of communities selected for Phase II will be revealed in September. What’s the upside for the Region? The Prince George games in 2015 generated $83 million regional economic activity, and the one in Sherbrooke in 2013 generated $110.7 million.

Public Services Committee: Harvard Road Transit Service – The buses along Harvard Rd. are some of the busiest in the Guelph Transit system, but there’s concern amongst area residents that all that activity is making Harvard Rd. too busy. As part of a traffic calming strategy in the area, council will consider potential changes to the two bus routes that pass through Harvard Rd. – Route 6 Harvard Road and Route 57 Harvard Express. The options include rerouting Route 57 to more arterial roads like Stone Rd., re-striping Ironwood Rd. to allow for buses to make turns, cancelling the 57, or keeping things exactly as they are right now.

Public Services Committee: Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy – The Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy Youth Addiction Project Working Group (YAPWG) formed in 2015, with a mandate from the WGDS Committee to review youth addiction services in Guelph and Wellington County, and to offer recommendations for service improvements. In all, the report is coming back with 12 recommendations including reducing barriers to accessing services, encouraging youth to help design improvements, fund youth specific outreach services, offer a minimum of two-day per week counselling in some high schools, the creation of a Be Safe app, and collaboration between city and county to pro-social recreational opportunities for at-risk youth.

Annual Asphalt, Contract 2 Stevenson Street Reconstruction Phase II (Grange Street to Bennett Avenue) Contract 2 – The motion is for council to approve the tender of Brantco Construction for the resurfacing of streets at the cost of $2,258,956.15.

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