LIVE BLOG: Committee of the Whole for November 6, 2017

Corporate Services, Public Services, and the Audit Committee all have their say, as well as a redux of the Speedvale Bridge Underpass Trail debate, are all up for discussion at this month’s 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 – November 6, 2017

Live blog from the meeting starting at 2 pm

  1. A mysterious last minute removal from the closed meeting agenda...

    A mysterious last minute removal from the closed meeting agenda…
  2. Mayor Guthrie is calling committee to order.
  3. Closed meeting items: Fall 2017 Public Appointments to Various Advisory Boards and Committees. A motion regarding this will be brought forward later today.
  4. Speedvale Avenue Bridge Underpass Risks and Liabilities. Council received some advice on this matter.
  5. Cllr MacKinnon declares that he does a Pecuniary Interest in that a business associate has been appointed to the Committee of Adjustment.
  6. First up, a presentation from Dorothy Fair about an update on the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association.
  7. The GWSA has 2,600 members, and encourages older adults to be active and involved in the community. It’s based out of the Evergreen Seniors Centre on Woolwich.
  8. Dorothy Fair is the president of the GWSA, which takes on leadership and instructional roles in activities organized for their community. Hosting an event called “The Day Before” on Nov. 10 for Remembrance Day.
  9. Fair has 3 requests: a GWSA rep gets a seat on any comm considering South End Rec Centre, to be a a part of discussions on parking solutions at Evergreen, and discussion on more transit access for seniors.
  10. Round of applause for the GWSA from council.
  11. Share Cost Allocation Basis with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Single Source Purchase Audit Report, Status of Outstanding Management Action Plans, and Internal Work Plan 2018-2020s pass unanimously by conscent.
  12. Board and committee appointments pass unanimously, with MacKinnon sitting out the one Adjustment Committee appointment.
  13. Next Matthew Betik from KPMG will go over the 2017 External Audit Plan.
  14. KPMG is the usually outside auditor that looks at the end of the year financial statements from the City of Guelph.
  15. The external audit should return to council sometime in June.
  16. Mayor Guthrie asks (as every year) if the auditor finds something misstated, then Betik will chase it even if its under the $355K threshold.
    Betik: That is correct.
  17. Cllr Wettstein points out a typo. Presentation says 2017 instead of 2018. #ithappens
  18. In response to a Q from Cllr Salisbury, Betik says there’s a lot of discussion with the finance staff, but for specific area questions, like transit fares, they will also address the appropriate staff directly.
  19. Cllr Gibson asks if KPMG has embedded staff that set up for a time at city hall or do they pop in all year long?
    Betik: It’s the former.
  20. Gibson now asking about turnover. Are the same people working on the audit every year?
    Betik: The opposite of turnover is continuity. KPMG tries to create a balance.
  21. Cllr Allt follows up on Gibson to make sure KPMG is following a professional ethic. Batik assures that they are.
  22. Guthrie puts forward the motion to receive the report. It passes 13-0.
  23. No staff updates, to that’s a wrap on Audit Committee.
  24. Now over to public services and delegations for the Speedvale Bridge Underpass. 12 delegates in all.
  25. DCAO Clack begins with comments. Staff is presenting three options for committee to consider, with a strong recommendation for A.
  26. Clack says that proceeding with A means that there will be no more of a delay getting started on that trail then if the original version was to be approved.
  27. Cllr Gordon hopes to inform the discussion asking Clack about not asking for amendments for Option A. Clack says A leaves things open enough that they can consider all possible amendments to the plan going forward. #flexibility.
  28. Plus, it was always the intention to co-ordinate construction of the trail with construction of the bridge in 2020, but Gordon notes that there are traffic concerns for next 3 years in the meantime.
  29. DCAO Stewart: We’ve got to keep the programs together, no physical and fiscal separation on the projects, but there maybe things that can be done in the meantime.
  30. Cllr Van Hellemond is concerned. How secure the wall is and addressing a steep incline, that will be in the next report?
    Clack: Yes, going with Option A and all that info will come back with next report.
  31. Chair Downer moves to the first of 12 delegations, Prof Hugh Whitely.
  32. Worth noting that there are also 28 letters and correspondences addressing this in addition to all the delegations and correspondences last month.
  33. Whiteley says that the City should proceed with an EA for the project. It requires no preconception for design, full range of types of trails to consider & opportunities to correct errors.
  34. Whiteley says he has not had any feedback from staff about the EA, but notes that going forward with it might address some of those liabilities that council discussed in the closed session.
  35. Next up Cyndy McLean, who was an avid runner till an accident made her paraplegic. She notes that there are a number of safety obstacles for her on the present trail system.
  36. Cllr Salisbury appreciates McLean pointing out how ignorant he is about the challenges for accessibility. Asks about the grades – AODA is 5% or less – but would that be accessible?
  37. McLean says you can’t look at anyone factor: 5% paved is > than 4% gravel, for example.
  38. Next up, Dorothe Fair of the GWSA returns…
  39. Senior seniors are trying to hold on their independence, says Fair. That means using their mobility devices and aids on trails is necessary and thus pushing council to support.
  40. Fair notes that the north Woolwich area is a “Mecca” for seniors. Most senior activities seem to happen in the area with all the apartments and the senior centre in the area.
  41. Barbara Mann is the next delegate. Says we forget the “fourth” pillar of creating a great community, which is culture. Must look at the trail from all angles including safety and accessibility.
  42. Mann notes that a lot of people used the Neeve street underpass, and the 100 steps. Growing use of trails for more than just bikes, and this is a worldwide trend.
  43. Nellie Jagt of the GWSA is talking now about she’s almost been hit by cars while walking up to Walmart. A lot of pedestrians know the feeling.
  44. Joanne McDermott wants to make sure council considers the potential damage to the river in *not* building a trail. Currently well-used manmade trail and people walking along retaining wall.
  45. McDermott notes that more people in the core means more people seeking refuge in natural areas like a trail alongside the river. #hint
  46. Bill Mungall from the Guelph Hiking Club is up next. We can only guess what side he’s on… jk.
  47. Suzanne Gates the next speaker, and there’s a video.
  48. Gates is with @activeguelph, praises committee for taking another look at the trail, and they are pleased with Option A but offers “significant amendments.”
  49. GCAT is asking for wide spread consultation with a variety of stakeholders before the end of Q1 in 2018. The video shows the extreme congestion at rush hour that people are facing at Speedvale.
  50. Mike Darmon, also with @activeguelph, is up now. Notes that there’s presently no options on the table, but Option A must include options for accessible and winter maintenance design options.
  51. Down to the last two delegates. Next up is Hilary Appleton who’s impressed with the expertise. She’s not with a group, just an area resident that walks dogs in the temp trail. Finds it chilling watching people trying to cross.
  52. Final delegate: Stan Kozak with the @2RiversFestival, and says that the plan is a river system for nature and a river system for people, and Guelph can have both.
  53. Kozak says that he now has up to 800 signatures on the petition. It’s being kept open for more signatures as long as the issue remains open.
  54. Salisbury has a number of Qs because of confusion. Option A means design different from Oct CotW plan, yes?
    DCAO Clack: Correct.
  55. Salisbury: The trail design proposed in Oct. was fully accessible.
    Clack: Yes, but there was concern from delegates about lack of accessibility about surrounding trails.
  56. Salisbury says it’s unclear what problem is trying to be solved by Option A?
  57. Clack: There were a number of issues staff felt flagging to committee, opted to take off municipal rules and abide by the provincial mandates alone.
  58. Flood plain, and structures in the flood plain were all the factors that played into the decision to bring back the more flexible Option A.
  59. Clack: the problem is “can we get a trail under Speedvale?” There were restraints under the previous motion so can staff get an accessible trail that still meets Official Plan without all the other demands placed upon it?
  60. Downer says before “we go too far into the weeds” it’s important to note that a number of partners, like the GRCA, also had issues with the original trail goals as laid out by council.
  61. Cllr Billings asks if there hard surface will still be explored?
    Clack: Yes.
    Billings: But it’s still in the one zone.
    Clack: Taking off minimum design criteria might help us find a way.
  62. Gordon/Hofland move Option A on the floor. Chair Downer says committee will proceed with staff Qs then talk to the motion.
  63. Clack says through Option A they will take into account all feedback today, plus there will be further engagement with interest groups and stakeholders in response to Gordon’s question.
  64. Allt makes point of privilege about the coldness in the council chambers. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally.
  65. Allt hopes that Option A will take into account all the concerns of quality and needs as brought up by the delegates.
  66. Cllr Piper will also support. Thanks delegates for their input and thinks this is a good case of council listening to the community needs.
  67. Guthrie clarifies with Gordon that he’s moved all the recommendations under Option A. He has.
  68. Salisbury asks if there will be an option to not proceed when staff returns with findings from Option A. Clack doesn’t want to presume the outcome. Staff determined to find a solution.
  69. Wettstein confirms for missing delegate Martin Collier that council is looking for alternatives. Clack adds that they’ve already been looking at alternatives, they just couldn’t precede with the original mandate from council.
  70. Cllr Bell’s only comment: What caused us to get into this predicament? Blames the Active Transpo Master Plan for creating new class of trail not allowed. Suggests that this is policy non-compliance and reconsider the plan.
  71. Guthrie thanks everyone for their advocacy. Says this is positive for the city.
  72. Option A for Speedvale Trail Underpass passes unanimously.
  73. Committee going to take a quick break. We’ll reconvene in 5 minutes.
  74. In the meantime, here’s the video courtesy of @activeguelph of the congestion along Speedvale.
  75. Committee will be back in session at 4:50 now. Council and staff asked for a longer break.
  76. Committee meeting is called back to order, and we begin again with the Paramedic Service Master Plan.
  77. The master plan will cover changes to paramedic services through 2022 including the addition of new shifts, and the move-in into new facilities. Remember: Guelph EMS covers not just Guelph, but many areas thru @wellingtncounty.
  78. Billings asks about moving the station from Elmira Rd to Paisley/Imperial.
    GM Dewar: That’s a leased base, and not a great location with one exit onto Elmira Rd. Also, an expensive lease.
  79. Allt asks if this is a neutral deal vis-a-vis the city’s deal with the country.
    Dewar: The cost sharing was reached thru arbitration in 2009. Whether there’s 2 calls/day or 9 calls/day the cost is relatively the same per bases.
  80. Hofland: Is the first time there’s been a paramedic master plan.
    Dewar: There was a consultation in 2009, but yes.
  81. Hofland: What’s being the 8 minute response time mandate?
    Dewar: For most severe calls, 8 minute response time is key, council then sets the target, which for Guelph is 65%.
  82. Hofland: Is this plan what you need to reach 80%?
    Dewar: LRH (the consultant) used a different model, when you’re on the edge of the concession, 8 mins not entirely reasonable, but yes, these changes get service closer to 80.
  83. Guthrie asks if 4 paramedics considered a complete “platoon” for a new shift. He’s asking because the Operating budget in 2018 is asking for 4 new FTEs for paramedics.
  84. 2 FTEs work 42 hours a week, 4 FTEs will work on a day-in/day-off, 12 hour day schedule.
  85. Dewar: asking for 4 in 2018 #GuelphBudget based on financial viability. More calls in daytime then night, so they really need the extra coverage for 12 hours during the day.
  86. Presently Rockwood is 12-hour covered, but a request for expanded funding there will come forward in the not-too-distant future.
  87. Vote on the Paramedic Master Plan passes unanimously.
  88. Next: Street Tree Ownership and Maintenance Report. Billings pulled this one with a question.
  89. Billings: emergency situation with a tree: what’s the process?
  90. Clack: That still relates to safety issues regarding the road or highway, as well as sidewalk. If there’s a threat to safety, city workers can go in and take care of it.
  91. Salisbury notes that there are streets in the west end where he sees all the trees are dead. When does the impending fall of a tree become an emergency?
  92. Staff: If a tree is standing, that’s not quite the same things as when a tree threatens to fall, like blown over in a storm or something.
  93. What percentage of Guelph’s 41K trees are ash trees? Staff says 10%.
  94. Salisbury asks if there’s a way that the City can come up with a plan to deal with the thousands of ash trees on private property that are likely to come down. Downer says that’s a political question, and there are already directions on the city website.
  95. Guthrie says he doesn’t want lost in the conversation that citizens can go online now/call into city so you can plan properly if you have a tree that needs maintenance.
  96. Street Tree Ownership and Maintenance passes.
  97. Second last item: Bicycle Skills Facility. Salisbury asks if the city has gone out to seek potential partners for maintenance yet?
    Clack: No. Staff waiting for council direction before proceeding.
  98. Salisbury says half the fun for the users of this park is getting to adjust the environment, so getting youth involved in design was key. Is that still part of the plan. Parks & Rec GM Flaherty says it is.
  99. City ownership and management is a function of legal liability for such a park, although Salisbury originally though such a stand was anathema of the concept. Flaherty says there may be accommodation in the operating model when decided upon.
  100. Flaherty also notes that no non-profit or similar group has come forward with an offer to manage the facility. Staff will be trained on how best to manage a skills facility.
  101. Gibson asks if something else is being cancelled to make room for the bicycling facility. Flaherty says realignment of volleyball and basketball has made room.
  102. Clack says this will have to come back later for capital budget costing in the process for 2019. The only thing being paid for now is the planning.
  103. Guthrie also notes that there could be revenue opportunities. BMX Canada could run events at our new Bike Skills Facility with the right consultation.
  104. Downer concerned with how this is prioritized more than any other project without public feedback. Clack says staff wanted to do the background research first with a recommendation about building, and then go out to the community engagement and here from stakeholders.
  105. Allt moves the recommendation, but only clause #1 and 2.

    Allt moves the recommendation, but only clause #1 and 2.
  106. Clack says pausing on clause #3 is no problem to staff.
  107. Billings adds amendment for deadline prior to 2019 budget process.
  108. Wettstein says this process makes this a pilot project and that it has value city-wide as an amenity. Could be several more years until there’s a second facility if demand is high.
  109. Recommendation approved 13-0. One last item under public services, an item MacKinnon pulled on Subsidy Strategy.
  110. MacKinnon pulled it even though it was only for information. It was a report about how city will be staying with low income cut-off (LICO) vs. low income measurement (LIM). The cost considered too great to make the transition.
  111. Cllr Hofland asks how staff determined why the costs were too great. If she doesn’t like the answer, she may ask for a seconder for further exploration.
  112. Staff: the cost came from calculations based on current trends in sales by the number of individuals that would be eligible for the programs when LICO expanded eligibility.
  113. Clack says that Hofland could bring forward this cost as an expansion pack at the future budget meeting, and proceed with the voting on the the receipt of the report tonight.
  114. Vote on the Subsidy Strategy passes 11-0. Piper and Van Hellemond are not here anymore.
  115. Final item: Changes to Vacant Unit Tax Rebate. Gibson asks for clarity as to whether or not this is accounted for in the operating budget as it. DCAO Lee says that it is and that council’s approval was assumed.
  116. Councillors remind before end of the meeting that there are budget town halls coming up. Full list is here on Politico: 
  117. It should be noted that the upcoming Ward 5 town hall will be focused more on homecoming fall out versus budget concerns.
  118. That’s adjournment for committee. There’s another council meeting on Wednesday at 2 pm for #GuelphBudget.

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