City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the November 19 Meeting?

City Council is getting together one last time before passing the torch to mostly themselves. Welcome to the lame duck session, and the last minute matters before a new city council is joined!

CLOSED MEETING: CS-2018-62 Memorandum of Agreement Between the City of Guelph and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Pictures Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada (IATSE) Local 357. The IATSE Local 357 represents the workers of the River Run Centre (along with Centre in the Square in Kitchener, and the Stratford Festival).

IDE-2018.133 Sign By-Law Variances: 175 Stone Road West – Walmart is asking for permission to put up six freestanding signs to reserving parking space for people picking up online purchases at the Stone Road location. Bylaw mandates that freestanding signs of a certain size must be separated by a distance of 120 metres, but the City is going to allow the variance in this instance.

IDE-2018.134 Sign By-Law Variances: 649 Scottsdale Drive – The Bank of Montreal is looking for a variance to install a new 14-metre squared illuminated sign along the fifth story of the building it’s located in. City staff have issued the variance based on the fact that the new sign will match historical signage, and because of its setback from the road.

IDE-2018-135 Sign By-Law Variances: 370-374 Stone Road West – McDonalds wants to install two new menu boards for their drive-thru. The new boards are bigger than is typically allowed, but they’re also smaller than the ones presently there, so the variance is approved by staff, and will likely be approved by council.

IDE-2018-136 Guelph Junction Railway: Board of Directors – As you may know, city council is the sole shareholder of Guelph Junction Railway, and a report on GJR operations and governance is expected before council some time in the first quarter of 2019. Considering that, and that the two council representative are typically appointed at the same time as members of other boards after the new council is sworn in (which is just a few weeks away), it’s being recommended that those appointments are postponed until the report can come back to council. In the meantime, it’s being asked that the Chief Administrative Officer, as the representative of the shareholder, appoint a City staffer to the board in the interim until March 31, 2019.

CS-2018-61 Request for Designation as an Event of Municipal Significance: Wellington Brewery – Wellington Brewery is having its First Annual Beer-Zaar on December 1, and it needs council approval to be recognized as an event of municipal significance so that it can obtain a Special Occasion Permit from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The City Clerk is recommending that council grant the approval. It’s for a good cause too as all proceeds are going to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis.

CS-2018-63 Subordination and Postponement Agreement: Habitat for Humanity Wellington Dufferin Guelph – Back in April 2017, Council approved a Development Charge Late Payment (DCLP) Agreement with Habitat for Humanity Wellington Dufferin Guelph. The agreement allowed for Habitat to postpone the payment of development charges, plus interest, until the third anniversary of the issuance of the building permit, which is July and November 2020. Habitat is now asking for a Subordination and Postponement Agreement on those DC payments in order to secure new loans to finish the development; Vancity, the loan provider, is making it a condition that they be repaid in full before any payments are made to the City. Although staff note that there’s an increased risk in approving the agreement, they know there’s a desperate demand for more affordable housing in the city, which will be a net benefit.

PS-2018-33 43 Arthur Street South Spring Mill Distillery: Sleeman Breweries Ltd., By the Glass Manufacturer’s Limited Liquor Sales Licence Application – The South Spring Mill, which is opening in the commercial ground floor of a new tower on Arthur Street, is asking to be allowed to sell samples of their spirits, “by the glass”, at their new micro-distiller. The AGCO issues licenses to Ontario wineries and breweries allowing for the on-site sale and consumption of their products to promote their products, enhance a tourist experience of their facility and/or to provide public education, but they need council endorsement to get it, and staff is recommending after consultation with bylaw and the police that they should be so approve.

Closed Meeting Investigation Report re: Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan Community Working Group and Technical Working Group – A complaint was filed with Amberley Gavel Ltd requesting that a meeting of the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and Community Working Group (CWG) be investigated as an improper closed meeting. The investigator Nigel Bellchamber looked into the complaint and determined that the meeting with the two groups, TAG and CWG, was not in breach of the open meeting provisions of the Municipal Act since no elected officials sit in these groups, and there’s no direct relationship between TAG and CWG and council, the job of these groups is to inform staff. No further action on this matter seems needed according to the investigator.

CS-2018-55 Council/Staff Relations Policy – Long before the Wynne government was defeated in this spring’s provincial election, an omnibus bill was passed that amended various pieces of legislation related to the municipal sector, including the Municipal Act. Sections 224 and 227 define the roles and responsibilities of council and the municipal administration (AKA: staff), and the City of Guelph doesn’t currently have that policy, so even though cities have until March 2019 to get something in place, staff is taking the initiative to bring something to council to pass now. The roles and responsibilities are outlined as follow:

Roles of Council and Staff:

  • Demonstrate commitment to communication and consultation among ourselves and with the public;
  • Show leadership, relying on our knowledge and judgment, and respond based upon our areas of expertise; and
  • Maintain confidentiality and, when appropriate, address confidential matters in “closed session” at Committee and Council meetings.

Council Role:

  • To govern and provide political direction;
  • To ensure that management systems work properly, establishing vision, goals, determining needs and outcomes to be achieved, and empowering effective staff performance;
  • To determine corporate policy and make decisions about issues following consultation with City staff and community residents;
    To respond to constituent concerns, to keep City staff informed, to be open to discussion, and to ask when clarification is needed; and
  • Elected representatives do not have an administrative or managerial role in the day to day business of the organization.

City Staff Role:

  • To provide timely reports to Council outlining factors that will assist in their decision making process, research policy issues as required, provide sufficient information based upon analysis and best professional expertise and judgment;
  • To implement Council’s decisions;
  • To manage and identify the means for achieving corporate goals and outcomes;
  • To provide appropriate follow-up to Council inquiries, to keep members of Council up-to-date and informed, to be open to discussion, and to ask when clarification is needed; and City staff do not have a political role.

It is expected that Council members will:

  • Request staff input prior to making important policy decisions and convey feedback to staff;
  • Discuss issues with staff and advise staff of questions prior to Committee and Council meetings whenever possible;
  • Request advice from the City Clerk about the appropriate wording of motions, amendments, and formal staff directions in accordance with the Procedural By-law; and
  • Consult with staff prior to making commitments to constituents.

It is expected that staff will:

  • Ensure that Council is apprised of any issues that may impact their decision making process;
  • Present a corporate and community perspective to Council;
  • Notify Council of changes to legislation and any unintended or unexpected impacts of policy decisions through written reports and/or presentations in a timely fashion;
  • Notify Council of media inquiries or news releases; and
  • Through senior staff at the CAO, Deputy CAO and General Manager level, convey feedback to Council members who may not be aware of existing policy or other workload demands and related issues.

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