LIVE BLOG: Committee of the Whole for November 7, 2016

Affordable housing, the new commercial policy, and the pilot project of the service review are all on today’s agenda for Committee-of-the-Whole. You can click here for the amended agenda from City Hall, and you can click here to read Politico’s preview of today’s meeting. For the complete blow-by-blow of today’s committee meeting, you can follow me on Twitter, or follow along below via Storify.

***Note: There will be a separate live-blog for the special meeting of the Committee-of-the-Whole on water taking beginning at 7 pm.

Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting – November 7, 2016

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. Cllr Hofland sends regrets. Salisbury at a GHESI Board meeting. It’s a committee of 11 today.
  2. Randalin Ellery, Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination will be presenting first.
  3. First up is a presentation about the living wage movement.
  4. #Guelph added 11 employers last week to be a part of the campaign to offer employees a living wage police. 2,200 ppl affected.
  5. All @cityofguelph full-time employees will earn a living wage by Jan. 2017
  6. The Task Force would like to see the support for fair wages enshrined in a council motion today.
  7. Now the 20K Homes Movement, a national effort to eliminate homelessness.
  8. 295 ppl experiencing homelessness 71% adults, 25 unattached youth under 25. The 295 number is considered a low est.
  9. GW Task Force also identified 14 homeless families.
  10. It’s very expensive to treat homelessness through emergency services. Over 1K interactions with police in 6 month period.
  11. 47 individuals accounted for 945 interactions btw homeless and police.
  12. Next steps: more research, by name list, coordinated access & assessment and finding housing.
  13. MacKinnon declares Pecuniary Interest as an owner of a business that is part of the Living Wage campaign already.
  14. Vote to refer the 20K Homes campaign to staff passes 11-0
  15. Allt asks to pull 2017 Council and Committee Meeting Schedule; Downer asks to pull CAO Employment Contract.
  16. Allt has concerns about January meetings. Imperative to appreciate the part time responsibility of councillors…
  17. …a very long Nov/Dec, and the impact of staff must be considered.
  18. January meetings = backdoor full-time councillors. Allt says he and his councillors look forward to R&R in Jan.
  19. January 23 is actually a placeholder. Will be released if staff has nothing to bring forward.
  20. Cllr Gordon is also concerned about “risky precedent” of Jan meetings. A lot of councillors structure their year around having it free.
  21. Billings recalls there being a lull in January.
    Clerk notes only one meeting from Jan 25 this past year.
  22. O’Brien says the structure of CotW needs to happen in Jan b/c some committees would be unheard for 2 months.
  23. This is a lot more conversation about next year’s meeting schedule than I anticipated…
  24. Allt moves to delete the CotW meeting and Jan 23 meet from the schedule.
  25. Gordon likes Billings suggestion that CotW be moved to Jan 30.
  26. Vote to remove Jan 16 and 23 from meeting schedule: fails 7-4 (Billings, Allt, Wettstein, and Gordon vote in favour)
  27. Guthrie says only 2 days they would have meetings out of 31.
  28. Council schedule for ’17 passes 9-2. (Allt and Gordon dissent).
  29. Downer asks to here more from CAO Thomson about thoughts on posting contract to city website.
  30. Thomson says its a matter of transparency as council’s only employee. Absolutely in favour.
  31. Guthrie tells Thomson he appreciates the leadership and “new era of transparency”
  32. Guthrie discusses Bill 46. A private members bill to allow for family leave to override the condition to call seat vacated after 3 months.
  33. Province looking at getting municipal support to change it, Guthrie would like council to endorse too.
  34. Allt affirms that this is a matter of human rights too.
  35. Piper makes the motion, people shouldn’t be afraid of losing their position for taking care of their families, she said.
  36. Council votes unanimously in favour of the motion.
  37. Next, Proposed Framework for an Affordable Housing Financial Incentives Program
  38. A decision reserved from previous meeting about financial incentives framework and a review of 2ndary rentals
  39. Secondary rentals review report will be brought forward in Q1 2017
  40. Current balance of the affordable housing fund is $600K, the 2017 budget will add another $100K
  41. MacKinnon begins questions. The definition of affordable is the province’s is the 30-60%? Is that of income?
  42. Staff: affordable definition based on income and market, in Guelph the bench is based on market.
  43. The market based definition is the lower number, says staff.
  44. Billings asks about the actual amount in the reserve, the current amount. What happened to 2016 in other words.
  45. The amount is $725K after 2016 contribution before the 2017 budget.
  46. Staff confirms that $100k in 2017 budget, bringing amount up to $825K. (Some of that reserve was spent last year FYI)
  47. Still work to be done in terms of developing the program details, it’s intended to come back to council & can be timed w/ other reports
  48. Staff: We’re asking council today to approved the high level program criteria. Next step is more detailed design.
  49. Great to have @cityofguelph Council endorse the #gwlivingwage program AND commit to helping find solutions to end homelessness #gw20khomes
  50. Wettstein “in a box” because council has no idea who high this is on the priority list to put $500K into crafting the aff. housing policy
  51. The report was meant to get the conversation going; does council want to proceed with fin. incentives b4 specific budget suggestions r heard
  52. Waving DCs is an option to consider in the future, but future grants might be an option to replace DC so city not out of pocket.
  53. DC=Development charges. RE: the money that pays for roads, sewers, and the like.
  54. Guthrie: Do you need more info regard 2ndary markets to decide what financial incentives will be?
  55. DC review and update will be coming in 2018 too.
  56. Wettstein still thinks we’re putting the cart before the horse. This will not be ready for 2017 anyway.
  57. Guthrie looking to bring committee together on whether or not they’re going to pass the report.
  58. Guthrie asks that somebody do something. Bell moves all 4 recommendations with Gordon seconding
  59. Bell says incentives on affordable housing have been there for as long as he’s on council. This solidifies the effort.
  60. Allt says the city hasn’t yet identified how to fund this effectively though they have identified the city’s role.
  61. Both feds and province have abdicated responsibility over last 40 years, and now dumped it on cities.
  62. Poverty activists note that affordable housing isn’t something “they can grasp onto” says Allt.
  63. Allt says he’s going to reluctantly vote against it.
  64. MacKinnon: City looking at giving tax money to developer to create units we have no control over.
  65. Focus money to accessibility solve 2 problems: more affordable housing in 2ndary market, plus solving accessibility issues
  66. Give developers $80K or give homeowners $10K is MacKinnon’s idea.
  67. Gordon says he’s putting faith in the staff to nudge things forward. They’re asking for council’s approval to keep nudging.
  68. Gibson asks to see the four referrals broken up..
  69. There are the 4 referrals, Wettstein has suggested that point #4 should be #1.

    There are the 4 referrals, Wettstein has suggested that point #4 should be #1.
  70. Guthrie warns council to be careful to cherry pick about what they’d like to see know. Better for staff to refer the whole thing back.
  71. Downer says council has been talking about this “forever” putting money in every year, and no saying “we don’t want to do this”
  72. Downer prepared to support this the way it is and “stop kicking this down the road”
  73. Bell says he won’t support the *entire* referral, but will support item #2.
  74. Guthrie concerned about impact if one referral is passed and others are not.
  75. Staff looking for direction on #1, but info coming back on #2, #3 would support the path staff already on with this.
  76. Staff looking for #2, 3 to be referred, but decisions need on #1,4.
  77. “Let’s see how this referral goes,” Guthrie says with almost no enthusiasm.
  78. Clerk advises that the referral be removed for all 4 points, and committee vote for them one at a time.
  79. O’Brien: Procedurally cleaner to have each referred back to staff individually.
  80. Wettstein: Can’t say yes to 1 and 4 without info from 2 and 3.
  81. Referral of #2,3 passes 8-3. Gordon, Downer, Allt vote against.
  82. Wettstein: We’ve got a reserve, but haven’t directed staff on a way to spend it yet.
  83. Point #4: That funding for an Affordable Housing Financial Incentives Program be included as part of the 2017 budget discussions.
  84. Guthrie: Either we agree to start this or not. It will be fleshed out in 2017.
  85. MacKinnon: This is a plan to create a program. Something may never happen, but the plan is there.
  86. Finally point #4: That funding for an Affordable Housing Financial Incentives Program be included as part of the 2017 budget discussions.
  87. MacKinnon says council can’t approve #4 b/c there’s no policy there yet to fund.
  88. Guthrie: I’m looking for somebody to do something on #4.
    MacKinnon: Can I delete it?
  89. Guthrie asks staff to clarify the purpose of #4
  90. Staff: the intention was to focus council att’n on the framework, make sure discussion is properly position for budget deliberations.
  91. Passing #4 gives council the opportunity to talk about it at budget time, but will talk about it anyway…
  92. Gordon, Guthrie, Downer and Bell vote in favour, but the vote fails 7-4
  93. Commercial Policy Review: Terms of Reference, Solid Waste, and Essex St Parking are Items to be pulled.
  94. Gibson withdraws his desire to pull Commercial Policy review.
  95. Guthrie has one comment on Essex St. Thanks staff for responding quickly.
  96. Guthrie appreciates that there was an element to create friendly atmosphere around renovations and construction work.
  97. Vote on end of Essex St parking pilot passes unanimously 11-0
  98. Guthrie asks to set Corporate Services agenda. Reserve/Reserve Fund Consolidation and Policy & Business/Service Review Framework Implement
  99. Bell asks to pull Reserve and Reserve Fund Consolidation and Policy
  100. No one asks to pull Business/Service Review Framework Implementation. Passes 11-0
  101. Meeting is called back to order with 115 Dawn Avenue: Letter of Refusal for Tree Removal as per the City of Guelph Private Tree By-law
  102. Mike Dykstra to talk about why he wants to get rid of 5 cider trees on his property.
  103. Concerns: 1) visibility of street (neighbourhood watch) and 2) liability concern as branches become weighted and fall
  104. City’s arborist ruled that the trees are healthy
  105. Dykstra initially applied for removal b/c of aesthetics, but now notes the practical concerns now that he’s moved in.
  106. Dawn Ave a secluded street so dependent on neighbours looking out for one and other he says.
  107. Dykstra has a landscape proposal to replace the 5 trees with 9 more. Realizes bylaw was designed to stop ppl from cutting down forests.
  108. Bell gets clarity, no problem with the trees’ health.
  109. 1) Is there a rule or policy about compensation? Ratio is 3-1 replacement.
  110. Does city ask for certain size? 60 mm tree, but negotiable based on type of tree.
  111. The preference of the city to see native species of tree planted.
  112. If council decides to allow the appeal, staff would require the compensation be offered in the replacement of those trees.
  113. Billings asks about placement of the trees. Staff will work with home owner, and there’s some flexibility.
  114. In response to Downer’s question, yes, it is enforceable.
  115. Gordon has concerns about the precedent being established. Could ppl go to council to override staff position?
  116. Wettstein points out that this is a larger lot, and element of fairness to be considered here.
  117. Wettstein says there’s a contradiction to think about, townhouses built in the same area, and the trees were cut down.
  118. Guthrie says there’s problems with tree bylaw, and doesn’t like who it interferes with homeowner rights. When is it up for review?
  119. Bylaw doesn’t have a set time to review, but there is a review mechanism in one of the management plans.
  120. Homeowner has a choice of leaving trees in place, or be subject to the replacement criteria of 15 trees.
  121. Guthrie asks Chair Bell to see if they can hear from the Dykstra to hear from him about compromise.
  122. Bell: “I’m seeing more nods than shakes.”
  123. Dykstra: applied to build garage, got permit, and then got email about the missing trees where the garage was built.
  124. Just not the space for 3 for 1 replace. Doesn’t mind compensating, but he doesn’t have the space.
  125. Guthrie: “This homeowner is doing his best” so he’s going to step away from amendment.
  126. Bell: this is not a black and white thing. If the trees were significant to the neighbourhood it would be a different story.
  127. Main motion: that the removal of the trees be allowed in consultation with the homeowner to replace. Passes 9-2 (Gordon, Wettstein against)
  128. Fun fact: the City’s Engineering Standards of Design for Subdivision Engineering, Sewers, Roads and Watermains goes back to 1974!
  129. “We don’t want to wait another 42 years” to update engineering manual, says Staff.
  130. People are streaming in to the gallery now. Early birds for the water meeting?
  131. My colleague @SaxonOnTheStorm wonders if they’re Nestle employees. Perhaps…
  132. Guthrie says he’s heard nothing but positive feedback from developers about the new manual.” Another notch in the belt” for Guelph.
  133. Next up: Subdivision Construction – Process Change
  134. Staff calls this another positive move in city management.
  135. Basically, the city oversees & manages infrastructure construction in new subdivisions. Report suggests less-hands-on “assumption model”
  136. My @GuelphTribune colleague Doug Hallet has confirmed that the 35 ppl that came in a while ago represent Nestle Waters in Aberfoyle.
  137. Guthrie calls it “another notch on the belt”
  138. Guthrie points out that only #Guelph uses the model of managing all aspects of infrastructure construction.
  139. We’ll be “rolling out the red carpet for businesses” in Guelph says Guthrie.
  140. Bell asks about last item in Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise, variance in solid waste.
  141. These are extraordinary items that have been resolved, but affect this year, yes?
  142. The costs are tied in part to the fire at the plant in June, taking steps to offer a budget with no negative variance in 2017.
  143. Putting a hold on discretionary spending and program enhancements.
  144. Staff points out that Solid Waste will be the first department to get the full Service Review.
  145. Circumstances are unique and not structural in nature.
  146. Billings asks if insurance will cover the fire losses.
  147. There’s no business interruption coverage, which is where the loss came from, insurance will replace lost equipment.
  148. Guthrie congratulates “the fresh set of eyes” and how it was brought forward quickly by exec team.
  149. Bell says he has complete confidence that “we’re in good hands now”. Looking forward to “Stellar report” in 2017.
  150. Last item: Reserve and Reserve Fund Consolidation and Policy.
  151. Bell concurs with report to better balance city reserves, hopes that they would provide insight into whether the levels are adequate.
  152. Consolidation will come under phase 2 deadline end of Q2 when it comes to committee of the whole
  153. Guthrie says there’s theme: council is reacting to professional information that we’re getting to make city better.
  154. This is another step to getting city financial house in order, says Guthrie.
  155. Reserve and Reserve Fund Consolidation and Policy passed 11-0
  156. That’s a wrap for the main Committee-of-the-Whole. The meeting on Water Taking will commence at 7 pm.


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