LIVE BLOG: Committee of the Whole for May 1, 2017

If it’s the first Monday of the month, then it’s time 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.

Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting – May 1, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. Before committee of the whole today, @mayorcamguthrie and members of council opened a time capsule buried in the cornerstone of the Victoria Road Recreation Centre in 1974. Inside were newspapers, city rec materials, a letter from Mayor Norm Jary, postcards, and other #Guelph items. The capsule will be put back with items from the present to be opened in 25 years from now when the Rec Centre reopens later this year.

    Before committee of the whole today, @mayorcamguthrie and members of council opened a time capsule buried in the cornerstone of the Victoria Road Recreation Centre in 1974. Inside were newspapers, city rec materials, a letter from Mayor Norm Jary, postcards, and other #Guelph items. The capsule will be put back with items from the present to be opened in 25 years from now when the Rec Centre reopens later this year.
  2. Council and staff are now streaming in for committee of the whole.
  3. Closed session on Public Libraries Act. Guthrie says council received information. No direction given.
  4. 1 item passed by consent: Federation of Canadian Municipalities – Climate and Asset Management Network Application
  5. Regrets today from @ward5guelph today. (Get well soon, Cllr. Piper)
  6. First up, 30 Year Membership Award to Guelph and District Home Builders Association https://t.co/TMypkAXTVw

    First up, 30 Year Membership Award to Guelph and District Home Builders Association pic.twitter.com/TMypkAXTVw
  7. Council also recognizes Adrian van Eck for graduating from Exec Diploma in Municipal Mgmt from AMCTO. https://t.co/96p2JOOBOl

    Council also recognizes Adrian van Eck for graduating from Exec Diploma in Municipal Mgmt from AMCTO. pic.twitter.com/96p2JOOBOl
  8. AMCTO = Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario
  9. Now Stephen O’Brien, city clerk, will talk about the six month update on Committee-of-the-Whole structure.
  10. Previous the clerks office was preparing 6 agenda per month, now they’ve cut that in half.
  11. There have been very few extra reports added to the addendum versus the initial council agenda (which is a good thing says O’Brien)
  12. Cllr Bell asks if the public is more engaged by the new system? “There’s been no significant change in that regard,” said O’Brien
  13. Cllr Gordon says that public input is needed to get clearer picture of effectiveness as new system, council support is “tepid at best”
  14. Gordon notes it seems that the new system is working great for staff, but there’s a piece missing w/o public input.
  15. The adjustment to chairing needed to address confusion, says O’Brien. Mayor sitting in the Chair’s chair, but another cllr charing (?)
  16. Salisbury asks the downside of having mayor act as chair?
  17. O’Brien: Staff recommendation says 1 person in the chair streamlines meeting, in best policy w/ CotW Mayor just chairs council
  18. Also allows other members of council to get a sense of responsibility, shared leadership, and spreads work around.
  19. Wettstein questions the need for rotating chair, what responsibilities does the chair have now?
  20. Staff feels there’s merit in working with one person on the agenda. A rotating chair doesn’t detract from that.
  21. Cllr Gibson asking about ppl coming to CotW and Council, which was a concern in the original debate.
  22. There were 0 ppl in the six months cycle, then there was 1 in April.
  23. Prof. Hugh Whiteley will now delegate on the matter.
  24. Whiteley says 5 minutes in front of council is no way to engage with citizens on important/complex issues.
  25. Gordon says it’s appropriate that the only delegate on this issue is council’s most frequent delegate.
  26. Waterloo, according to Whiteley, allows delegations for things not on the agenda, so why not Guelph?
  27. Whiteley hopes Guelph will open itself to more engagement, and not just anything that happens to come up on agenda.
  28. Billings moves clause 1,3, and 4; Hofland asks that each one be voted for separately. https://t.co/Zyds2LPEQ1

    Billings moves clause 1,3, and 4; Hofland asks that each one be voted for separately. pic.twitter.com/Zyds2LPEQ1
  29. Wettstein wonders if there are too many unanswered questions on point #2, which isn’t on the floor yet.
  30. Bell now sees the benefit of CotW, but concerned about diminished public input (meeting during normal work hours)
  31. Today the #Guelph & District Home Builders' Association recognized our Building Services team for 30 yrs of meaningful dialogue #guelphproud https://t.co/l99yD1bRrE

    Today the #Guelph & District Home Builders’ Association recognized our Building Services team for 30 yrs of meaningful dialogue #guelphproud pic.twitter.com/l99yD1bRrE
  32. Bell asks staff to investigate public delegations. Is there more or less?
  33. Bell asks staff to also take into account comments on the city’s website as public feedback.
  34. Congrats, Adrian! We’re proud of our manager of inspections for completing the @AMCTO_Policy Executive Diploma in Municipal Mgmt program. https://t.co/oo5p2yBqki

    Congrats, Adrian! We’re proud of our manager of inspections for completing the @AMCTO_Policy Executive Diploma in Municipal Mgmt program. pic.twitter.com/oo5p2yBqki
  35. O’Brien says they can report back whether more delegates come out at 2 pm or 6:30 pm. CotW timing was set b/c 2 of old cmtes met then
  36. Mayor Guthrie says he feels that CotW is working well, but wonders why Q2 2018 for a report on progress.
  37. O’Brien says that feedback from council indicates that there are some things that need to be worked out before another review.
  38. Guthrie notes that public engagement depends on the issue.
  39. Hofland has amendment for #4, doesn’t speak to community engagement though.
  40. Hofland amendement to #4 asking for community engagement passes 11-1 (MacKinnon against).
  41. Allt offers new clause #2: That Mayor Guthrie stand as chair for the remainder of this term of council
  42. Allt: The mayor as the full-time councillor is most familiar with the operation of the city.
  43. Bell says he won’t support motion, he thinks have chair of each area is important learning opportunity for council, who have many skills
  44. Confirmed: there would be no more service area chairs if the Allt/Salisbury amendment will pass.
  45. Gibson says he’s happy to take on the extra work load, and that no one’s asked if he’s happy.
  46. Termite levels are at their lowest levels since 1999.
  47. City trapped only 6K termites last year, which is down from over a million in years gone by.
  48. Allt asks about toxicity of the chemical used on termites. Don’t worry, it’s only mildly toxic, but they’re also natural.
  49. Salisbury asks if Guelph will achieve full termite eradication. Tim Myles says we’re getting very close.
  50. It could still be another 6 years to get all properties “white”, but the more immediate goal will be next year to get rid of all “red” zones
  51. Committee is going to take a break till 4. See you in 7.
  52. Next up Rob Reynen, Chief Building Official on 2016 Building Permit Revenue and Expenditures.
  53. 2,600 permit issued last year, many people renovating and expanding their homes too.
  54. Report received 11-0 (Van Hellemond stepped out of the room)
  55. Elementary School speed zone, Gibson asks about expanding school zone beyond just the road past the school
  56. Staff: It’s a start. Reducing speed in small ways thru signing, but more will “be added to the package”
  57. Gibson asks if the City is actively looking for feedback from the public on this.
  58. Staff: Can be added to guelph.ca, and can continue to look at those requests for additional streets to be signed.
  59. Allt asks if Guelph is bound by provincial constraints for setting speed limits (it is), but Allt also concerned about seniors.
  60. Is it possible to go beyond provincial expectations, asks Allt.
  61. Staff confirms that they can look at a more “grandiose” vision of speed limits in the city.
  62. Staff says it will be a year before the province releases “options” for cities. Of course this time next year we’ll be in middle of #onelxn
  63. Staff says we’re trying to build a matrix… to help children get to and from school safely.
  64. Cllr Downer asks about photo radar in school zones. The matter is presently in front of regulars in regards to school/comm safety zones
  65. Gordon notes data that says chances of surviving being hit by a car is 85% at 35 km/h, but gets cut in half at 40 km/h
  66. That was a consideration in the discussion, staff says.
  67. Bell would like to speed reduction in areas around parks too… Aw heck, reduce speeds in the whole city.
  68. Bell in favour anything that can be done to lower speeding in the city.
  69. Salisbury asks that clause #1 (about increasing 30 to 40 km/h) be separated.
  70. Guthrie says there’s something about those residential areas that persuades him to keep it at 30 km/h. Too many feel the need for speed.
  71. Guthrie adds that he wants to ere on the side of safety, perhaps it’s better enforcement required.
  72. MacKinnon thinks keeping it at 40 is a reasonable compromise between safety at school hours, and more flow during off hours.
  73. Wettstein says he’s struggling with raising speed limits as gov’ts are trying to get more people to slow down.
  74. Downer wonders if a referral on 30/40 is better until the provincial legislation comes back…
  75. Staff: It’s a valid thought, unsure when the province is going to get it done though.
  76. Staff makes the case for 40, it gives drivers one speed limit to focus on.
  77. Salisbury moves a referral on clause #1, hold off until province approves time of day signing.
  78. Guthrie clarifies: Isn’t the provincial bill about enforcement only? Don’t want to be caught waiting.
  79. Gibson: It’s more defensible on the side of safety
  80. Council votes 11-1 for keeping 30 km/h school zones.
  81. Next up: Bell has questions on Naming Annual Report.
  82. Staff: We don’t have a policy right now about *paying* for naming rights. These are commemorative namings.
  83. Committee Room 112 at City Hall to be renamed the Marg Mackinnon Community Room for the 2nd woman to ever serve on city council from 1973-85
  84. There are very specific naming sponsorships available, like the Sleeman Centre. But these are the exception rather than the rule.
  85. Bell is happy to move a recommendation to get to create policy about paying for the chance to name stuff not built yet. Downey seconds
  86. Downer says Marg MacKinnon was the “go to” person who mentored many other women that came to council later.
  87. Interesting side note: developers name streets, and they auction off opportunity to name & give proceeds to charity.
  88. Gibsons asks for update on commercial policy. RFP been sent out, consultant hired, work underway.
  89. 2017 Development Priorities Plan Summery passes unanimously.
  90. No more from the IDE file. Committee is breaking for dinner till 5:45.
  91. Back to work. First item up os the CAO Performance Development Process and a Q from Hofland.
  92. Reminder: CAO is the only position that answers to council directly.
  93. This is exactly the same process as previous, says staff in response to Hofland. Some confusion about definitions.
  94. Hofland also thinks its tricky having HR take part in evaluation of CAO.
  95. Clack says this is following best practices from other cities. Similar to city clerk review process.
  96. Hofland asks if the process approved tonight will change? Clack: This is a broader process, yes.
  97. Hofland asks if there’s an appetite on council to hire an outside council on this process.
  98. Vote on clauses 1-3 for CAO Performance Development Plan passes 11-0. (@thatjamesgordon has stepped out)
  99. Allt says he doesn’t have a problem with staff overseeing, but wants public to see they’re being objective.
  100. Hofland amendment fail 4-7. (Allt, Guthrie, Hofland, Salisbury voted for)
  101. Hofland is bringing forward of motion to discuss appropriate use of notice of motion
  102. Which was a motion Wettstein brought forward and was voted down last week (?)
  103. Wettstein seconds. Says council’s been politicizing this for a year now.
  104. Gibson is hesitant to create more work for staff, maybe council should be more aware of other options for their own agendas.
  105. Gibson compares it to private members bills. Easy way to bring things forward.
  106. Allt heard rumour that there is a policy buried somewhere. O’Brien says there is not.
  107. “This is a new phenomenon”, says Wettstein. The frequency of notices of motion.
  108. “There wasn’t anything that was rocket science about this,” says Billings.
  109. “There wasn’t anything that was rocket science about this,” says Billings.
  110. On the matter of more work, O’Brien says there won’t be too much of an effect on what’s on the plate of the clerk’s office.
  111. Wettstein says his problem isn’t the notice of motion, it’s the perception that council is getting ahead of the public.
  112. Wants to put this to bed with a minimum amount of staff work.
  113. Guthrie says he’s noticed notices that are ahead of the work plan, or have a different process to bring forward. Why not a checklist?
  114. Hofland motion passes 8-3 (Bell, Billings, Gibson vote against)
  115. Guthrie wants to make amendment, but asks if the $76K for Infrastructure renewal is being used for new lighting in St George’s Square
  116. Yes, new lights were on the schedule, but time ran out before hand.
  117. Guthrie asks for all but $1 million be moved from Tax Rate Stabilization reserve to Infrastructure renewal. (In addition to $76K)
  118. Guthrie says Guelph has some time-sensitive infrastructure projects. Better to leverage the money now then let it sit in tax stabilization
  119. Also notes council’s done a good job on infrastructure the last few years.
  120. Staff, in response to Q from Allt, says that council is able to move money anyway if one of these time sensitive topics come up.
  121. Hofland says she finds it difficult to not go with staff recommendation on finance.
  122. Salisbury asks about what project(s) the money might be needed for. Guthrie says they have to go in camera.
  123. “It would be sale and acquisition of land,” says Guthrie.
  124. Salisbury: I need to know, “I can’t support your motion otherwise.
  125. Staff recognize that this is a good opportunity to raise up the rate stabilization fund, says Wettstein.
  126. Wettstein says in 6 weeks from now, if there is request, he’ll be willing to vote just as fast.
  127. Gibson says we all know why the tax rate stabilization is low, it’s b/c council’s been using it to soften year end rate hike
  128. Also notes that having a big reserve offers false security.
  129. Guthrie asks if money in the tax stabilization reserve ever been used on anything except countering tax increase.
  130. Guthrie is sticking with his amendment. “The easiest ting to make something permanent is to make it temporary,” which is a Sailsbury quote.
  131. Billings also thinks we should give money to infrastructure.
  132. “I haven’t heard such an effective election discussion” then what’s happened in last 15 minutes, says Wettstein.
  133. “We’re sitting here playing games, throwing out the word Urbacon,” says Wettstein who accuses council of playing politics.
  134. “I think some of that’s directed at me,” says Gibson. Then points out Wettstein has already voted against staff today.
  135. Guthrie says his comment about Wettstein’s comment is the exact opposite. That is all.
  136. MacKinnon says the tax stabilization reserve should be called lower taxes reserve
  137. Guthrie amendment passes 7-4 (Allt, Hofland, Salisbury, Wettstein against)
  138. Hofland wants to leave in on a positive note: Guelph has a surplus!!!
  139. Billings has quick Q about being over budget on Claire/Laird overpass. Can we make that $750K back?
  140. The amount will be included in the next background study and the rate will be collected going forward.
  141. Now public services agenda. Q from Gibson on Business License Fees: Is cost recovery standard?
  142. Thomson: Guelph started this in 2009, licensing changes between municipalities, what they license and for how much.
  143. Business license fees pass 10-0. (MacKinnon stepped out)
  144. Next up: refugee support program review. Gibson asks for clarification.
  145. This is a one year pass, and after that year, they can be referred to other subsidy programs if they need it.
  146. The “Welcome to Guelph” pass includes transit pass, museums pass, and recreation pass.
  147. Guthrie says “This is really great.” The pass is the “neighbourly thing to do.”
  148. Gibson has withdrawn the low carbon economy motion based on feedback he’s received and the discussion on notices of motion tonite.
  149. One last item: a review of governance/best practices of @GuelphLibrary.
  150. Downer offers amendment to make it clear they’re looking at developing a working group that can go forward with capital projects.
  151. Downer wanted to make it clear that the city was *not* reviewing the governance of the library, it’s specifically about capital.
  152. Downer notes that the City can’t force the library to work with them.
  153. Allt wonders how many ppl think that GPL is not a wholly owned department of the city.
  154. Thomson says that’s information that can be gathered and brought back to council.
  155. Wettstein hoped that the emphasis would be on governance with secondary goal on capital projects. Are we missing the point?
  156. Wettstein says with police board there were no governance questions, just financial ones.
  157. Wettstein worried that this new wording will be all about capital and not about the governing relationship.
  158. Downer says the point is to not look at the whole operation, trusts city and GPL staff to know what they’re doing to move capital forward
  159. Guthrie says there was stuff being missed when renos began on Police HQ. Trying to be proactive on new library.
  160. Wettstein asks CAO if the motion is going to deal with governance to his satisfaction.
  161. Thomson is comfortable. A good first step and will learn quickly if it’s achievable.
  162. Wettstein confirms that this is a joint staff working group. No politicians or BOD
  163. Wettstein says he’ll be patient, but still has concerns.

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