This month at Committee-of-the-Whole, we hear from the Audit, Public, and Corporate Services portfolios, and we begin part two of the debate to decide the fate of the proposed trail beneath Speedvale Bridge.
CLOSED MEETING: C-COW-CS-2017.1 Fall 2017 Public Appointments to Various Advisory Boards and Committees; C-COW-PS-2017.2 Speedvale Avenue Bridge Underpass Risks and Liabilities; C-COW-CS-2017.2 Guelph Transit/Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Negotiating Update
PRESENTATION: Who we are, What We do and Organizational Highlights – Dorothe Fair, Guelph Wellington Seniors Association
COW-CS-2017.18 Share Cost Allocation Basis with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health – The WDGPH wants to officially use data from Statistics Canada to determine how much each municipality contributes to its programs and services. Until now, the financial obligations for the WDGPH were determined by a 1997 agreement to use the 1995 census numbers, plus a 2006 amendment that says Guelph has to include 75 per cent of the University of Guelph’s on campus residence population as of September 30 of the previous year, which, as you can imagine is horribly outdated and inaccurate. The group looked at how other health units determine financial obligations, and most of them use population information via the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), but the W,D and G of our health unit have decided to use Stats Can as it offers more accurate figures. Naturally, there will be a budget impact on the 2018 Non-Tax Supported Budget to the tune of a $37,060 increase.
COW-CS-2017.19 Changes to Vacant Land Unit Tax Rebate Program – So way back in 1998, when the provincial government switched the tax burden on commercial and industrial land from tenants to owners, a rebate program was created to help property owners weather tough times when it may be difficult to find new shops and collect rent; 30 per cent for commercial space, and 35 per cent for industrial. Since 2012, that average amount has hovered around $800,000, but for 2016, it was closer to $600,000; meanwhile the overall number of applications received by the City has been roughly between 120 and 140 year-after-year since 2010. So why change it now? Because we can! The Building Ontario Up for Everyone Act, an amendment to the Municipal Act, allowed municipalities to review the rebate program. After extensive consultations, staff is suggesting that the City of Guelph eliminate the rebate program as of January 1, 2018, and thus saving the City $470,000 per year.
COW-CS-2017.20 Fall 2017 Public Appointments to Various Advisory Board and Committees – There are lots of board and committee vacancies that need to be filled: there are four spots that need be filled on the Accessibility Advisory Committee (including one reappointment), one appointment and one reappointment to the Downtown Advisory Committee, one new person will join the Committee of Adjustment, one old person will rejoin the Environmental Advisory Committee as well as the Guelph Museums Advisory Committee, one new person will join the Heritage Guelph and the Public Art Advisory Committee each, two people will join the Tourism Advisory Committee but staff still need to search out a third, one new person will join the River Systems Advisory Committee while staff looks for two more, four people will rejoin the Transit Advisory Committee as one new person will join, someone new will join the Waste Resource Innovation Centre Public Liaison Committee while staff looks to fill another vacancy there, and someone new will be joining the Water Conservation and Efficiency Public Liaison Advisory Committee.
COW-PS-2017.13 Street Tree Ownership and Maintenance – Guelph has documented more than 40,000 street trees within our borders. Of those trees, one-quarter of those are “street trees” that have been determined to be on private land, and staff were tasked by council to come back with approaches for all the various ownership scenarios in terms of budget and maintenance. As it turns out, the City is already following best practices for the maintenance of those trees, and for the communication between the City and property owners who share responsibility for street trees. Staff is recommending that council stay the course.
COW-PS-2017.14 Bicycle Skills Facility – Last December, council directed staff to bring forward a report on the viability of such a facility with the Eastview Community Park as the preferred location. Now the City says “facility”, but this will really be akin to the skate park, but for off-road biking with various courses and jumps. The point is that there’s no facility like this in Guelph right now, and there are a lot of “unauthorized” facilities on public and private land in the City. Also, it would be nice to have some more recreational opportunities. Staff believes that there’s a high demand for such a facility due to the popularity of the skate park and increased use of other City rec facilities and programs, so they’re recommending that council proceed with a planning and design phase, and that this become a part of the Eastview Community Park Master Plan. The search will then begin for funding in the 10-year capital forecast.
COW-PS-2017.16 Paramedic Service Master Plan – Operational Research in Health Limited, a management consultancy firm, came up with a number of recommendations to enhance the services here through 2022. Now it’s important to note that Guelph’s Paramedic Services also covers the county, from Puslinch up northwest to Harriston. On top of that, demand is expected to rise 43.5 per cent by 2026, and staff is already feeling taxed by the increased number of calls. In other words, staff will be a priority, as well as re-orienting the system of stations. Before 2020, new night shifts will be added to the Hillsburgh and Rockwood stations, and the Hillsburgh station will be moved to a more optimal site. Rockwood will be moved sometime between 2020 and 2023, at the same time a new ambulance will be added to Fergus and a night shift will be added to Drayton. Finally, between 2023 and 2026, the Mount Forest and Harriston stations will be moved, and an additional ambulance and day shift will be added to both stations.
COW-PS-2017.15 Speedvale Avenue Bridget Underpass (referred from October 2, 2017 Committee of the Whole Meeting) – Following up on last month’s discussion on this topic, staff will bring forward new options for the Committee’s consideration. The original proposal for a trail under the Speedvale Ave bridge wasn’t feasible because of competing rules regarding the placement of permanent trails along flood plains. The community though is very much still hoping for a solution, and a petition with 201 signatures is part of the Committee package.
COW-AUD-2017.10 Internal Work Plan 2018-2020 – As I’m sure you’re aware, the City has been conducting audits of various City functions so that we can be assured of their efficiencies. Areas so far evaluated include Fuel Security and Systems, Single Sourced Purchases, and Payroll Process; those are just three of nine projects undertaken in 2017, all but two of them have been completed. So looking ahead, staff will be looking at 12 more areas to tackle over the next three years: Contract Management, Building Permits, Employee Business Expenses, Cash Handling, Property Tax Billing and Collection Process, Phone Management, External Consulting, Inventory Management, and I.T. Security. There will also be follow-ups to the Fuel Systems and Security and Vender/Payment, as well as the annual compliance for the Driver Certification Program.
COW-AUD-2017.11 Status of Outstanding Management Action Plans – This is an update on the progress of the implementation of the various management action plans, the last deadline for which was June 30 of this year. While some of the action plans are incomplete, staff did finish 85 per cent of the implementation before June 30, which is an improvement of eight per cent over the last deadline of March 2016, for which the plan was 77 per cent complete. There are 24 recommendations that are in-progress or incomplete for various reasons; 13 of those are past due by a year or more. Some of those outstanding measures include monthly surprise counts of Guelph Transit cash handling, and the enhancement of oversight activities to find opportunities to increase the use of purchase cards.
COW-AUD-2017.12 Single Source Purchase Audit Report – While you may know that the City has a competitive process for filling many of its big ticket contracts, like construction projects, they can also, under certain circumstances outlined in the Purchasing Bylaw, just conduct a single source purchase. An audit of how the City executes these purchases came back with a couple of suggestions including an update to the definitions, a review of the criteria to ensure those definitions are clear, and a review of the authorization levels to ensure approvals are adequate and appropriate.
COW-AUD-2017.13 2017 External Audit Plan – As you know, once the fiscal year is over, the City of Guelph has its financial statements reviewed by an outside expert, usually the fine people at KPMG. Once 2017 is in the history (and financial) books, KPMG will take over again and review with consolidated audited statements again in a report that will be due back to Committee sometime in mid-2018, likely in June. Matthew Betick, audit partner for KPMG, will go over his plan for auditing the financial statements with Committee.