Committee of the Whole Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the September 3 Meeting?

It’s back to business as usual and unusual for City Council, as they sit for the first time since the end of July. September’s Committee of the Whole brings forward a long list of items from the Corporate Services and Public Services agenda including trains, training, contracts, plans, and diversity.

Note: If you want to register as a delegate for any of these items on the Committee agenda, then you have to get in touch with the City Clerk’s office by 10 am on Friday August 30.

STAFF RECOGNITION: 

1) 2019 Mentorship for Internationally Trained Professionals Award from Employment Coordination Committee Guelph-Wellington-Corporate Services and Human Resources initiative with corporate-wide mentors

2) Six Sigma Certification

3) Graduate of Conestoga College Human Resources Course and Guelph Y Woman of Distinction Honouree

CAO-2019-14 Driver Certification Program Compliance Audit Report – Without getting too much into the history of this process, Guelph Transit is a “Recognized Authority” by the Ministry of Transportation, which means they’re in charge of making sure Guelph Transit drivers are trained and tested to meet licensing standards. The report from the audit says that Guelph Transit meets the Ministry of Transportation Driver Certification Program requirements with two exceptions: an error made while marking a test paper (which didn’t effect the pass/fail system of test results), and the untimely collection of course fees.

CAO-2019-15 Status of Outstanding Management Action Plans: Q2 2019 – Following up on the report from earlier this year (July to be precise), Staff is reporting that 199 tasks on the list are now complete, up from 178 in the first quarter. Of the tasks that remain, 59 that were due to be completed are still in-progress and another six recommendations have not yet started to be implemented. The result is that City staff now have a 77 per cent completion rate, which is one per cent better than it was in the first quarter.

CS-2019-62 Procedural By-law Update – Back in November, Council asked the Clerk’s Office to look at potential changes to the Procedural Bylaw, the rules that govern how council acts and behaves. After five out of 13 members of council responded to an online survey, and after two sit-down meetings with council members, the Clerk’s office offers a few new recommendations.

The most controversial is the return of the recommendation that all delegates are to only appear once at either Committee or Council, unless new information is presented by the delegate. This was originally proposed in 2016 when Council made the move to Committee of the Whole back in 2016. The Clerk’s office offers to come up with standards about what exactly “new information” means.

The second big change is that Council and Committee meetings will have hard deadlines. Council and Special Council meetings could now be barred from going past 11:59 pm, and Committee of the Whole could be barred from going past 9:30 pm. If the meeting threatens to go overtime, it will be up to the chair and the clerk to prioritze time sensitive items that cannot wait for the next meeting to be accomplished, and then set a time and date to reconvene to fulfill whatever remains of the agenda. Council typically reserves the third Monday of the month as provisional meeting dates.

Smaller changes recommended include creating stronger language for meeting decorum, barring “any obscene or improper content or language or defamatory allegations” from being included in written correspondences, and some minor grammatical, numbering, and phrasing changes.

OMC-2019-01 Councillors’ Request for Additional Training Funding, 2019 – Councillors Rodrigo Goller, Dominique O’Rourke, and Mark MacKinnon are requesting additional funds to be added to their annual allocation of $4875 each to cover costs related to their attendance at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference. Presently, $25,000 of the $58,500 budget for council training remains unspent, so the request is approved with the endorsement of Committee. The exact amount of the additional funds was not included in the report.

City of Guelph Strategic Plan 2019-2023 – There is one Strategic Plan, but it has five different priorities. 1) The City will work to improve the local economy by focusing on innovation, and helping business build their workforces. 2) The City will create a plan to deal with climate adaptation while reducing Guelph’s carbon footprint and moving to sustainability. 3) We’re going to improve our transportation by adopting clean tech, improving alternative transportation, and improving local and regional transit. 4) Involves the improve government with more accountability, communication, and fiscal prudence. 5) And finally, investment in community assets, increased access to housing, and building strong, safe, and vibrant communities. The complete plan for the implementation of the five strategic priorities will come back for Council’s approval sometime in the second quarter of 2020.

PS-2019-18 Update on the Brant Community Hub – After some controversy involving how City Council decided to go forward with the development of a community hub, it looks like Brant Ave will not get a facility after all. City staff are putting the blame on changes at the provincial government, as it’s unlikely that there will be supporting funding to build a community centre on the site. And since the type of tenants that could set up shop in a new location like the proposed Brant Community Hub also get provincial funding, it’s unlikely that they would get the support from the Province to move to a new location either. Case closed.

PS-2019-19 Tourism Entity Negotiation – The Province of Ontario allows for municipalities to collect a Municipal Accommodation Tax, a surcharge imposed on accommodations of 30 days or less meaning hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, and yes, AirB&Bs. In the case of the MAT though, the municipality is only allowed to keep up to 50 per cent of the revenue collected, the rest has to go to a non-profit tourism promotion entity, and Guelph doesn’t have one of those… until now. Or more likely next year.

The City put out a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) for a potential not-for-profit tourism entity, and the winning bid of four potential partners was the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. The City and the Chamber will now enter into negotiations, with Committee’s endorsement, with a due date of the second quarter of 2020 to bring forth a completed contract. How much revenue are we talking about? A one per cent MAT could bring in $267,000 while a four per cent tax, like the City of Oakville, could net just over a million dollars.

PS-2019-21 Centennial Pool License Agreement with the Upper Grand District School Board – City staff is recommending an early end to the agreement to operate and maintain the pool at Centennial CVI, a job the City of Guelph’s been doing since 1967. Why? “The facility received a D rating, meaning that the facility and its components are not functioning as intended, significant deterioration and distress has been observed, and repairs and rehabilitation are required within the next year to restore functionality,” Parks and Rec GM Heather Flaherty said in media release.

The cost to make improvements and install the mechanical equipment necessary to upgrade the pool’s accessibility would alone require a $1.2 million invest on the part of the City. The Upper Grand District School Board does not have the finances to fund the operating expenses of the pool either, let alone upgrade them. So with all those options exhausted, the only option left is to close the pool down, which the City will do as of January 2020. Activities at the Centennial Pool will now be moved to the West End Community Centre and Victoria Road Recreation Centre, and the 2020 budget funds for operating and capital designated for the Centennial Pool be re-allocated to other facilities.

PS-2019-17 Locomotive 6167 Move – The old Locomotive 6167 is going to be on the move again. Originally situated next to the old Greyhound bus terminal, the train was moved to a spot just off Farqhuar Street in 2012 where it has sat ever since. But the contract with Metrolinx for the lease of the land will expire in 2020, and Metrolinx has told the City that they’ve got to move the 490 ton train car because they plan on making that space a second platform for two-way, all-day GO Train service.

So the City is proposing that Locomotive 6167 be moved to John Galt Park behind the River Run Centre. “John Galt Park was chosen because the City owns the land, it’s close to the train’s current location, it can support its weight and won’t impact how residents use the park space,” said Danna Evans, general manager of Culture, Tourism and Community Investment with the City of Guelph in a media release.

Moving the locomotive, including the crane and trucks, protection of the train during the move, road closure and landscaping, is expected to cost $650,000, which would be included as part of the 2020 Capital Budget. Alternatively, committee could recommend that Locomotive 6167 could be removed from Guelph Museums’ collection, gift it to another museum or organization, or retain the historically-valuable rail pieces and disposing of the rest.

PS-2019-20 Revised Community Investment Strategy – This refers to a number of strategies that the City uses to invest in the community benefits sector, and you like already recognize the programs; they are the Community Benefit Agreements, the Wellbeing Grants, and the Innovation Fund. Items like the Affordable Bus Pass, and the “Welcome to Guelph” passes are other examples of programs designed for the community benefit of Guelph that the City invests in.

Don’t worry, Guelph will continue to invest in the community, but it recently undertook a study to see if the City is doing the best way possible, and thusly, some changes are proposed. For instance, the Wellbeing Grant will now become the Community Grant, and while it will remain focused on delivering operating funds for a wide variety of programs and services, there will also be a change to allow groups to apply for multiyear funding of up to 3 years. There are also proposed new programs for a City Fee Reimbursement so that community groups might access City services more cheaply, and the Emergency Fund, which allow groups to get through times of funding difficulty.

CS-2019-17 Property Tax By-law Update – These are a couple of relatively minor changes to the bylaw that administers the collection of property taxes in the City of Guelph. One has to do with payment scheduling, where in staff is recommending a change in the 11-month property tax payment schedule from November to September to January to November starting in 2021. The hope is that this will end confusion as to where taxes paid in November and December are allocated to either the present or next calendar year. The other change concerns delegation of authority to hear applications under Section 357(1)(d.1) that “determine if a cancellation, reduction, or refund of property taxes is warranted due to sickness and/or extreme poverty.” The Assessment Review Board (ARB) will now hear those applications, which would follow best practices of several other municipalities.

CS-2019-23 Second Quarter 2019 Operating Variance Report – So the good news is that the City’s Tax Supported Budget is projecting a favourable variance of $1,229,000, or 0.5 per cent, for the fiscal year. Planning fees, water and wastewater consumption, hydro conservation and efficiency, and cost savings in salaries, wages and benefits due to retirements has all contributed to the favourable variance. Some departments are presently delivering unfavourable variances though. Operations is projecting an unfavourable variance due to more all the extra bad weather we got earlier this year, and because of increase software licensing costs and collective bargaining have also cost the City. The Finance staff also warn (again) about the financial pressures coming from the Provincial government that will impact the City in the immediate future.

CS-2019-84 The City of Guelph Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Plan – The City of Guelph seeks to become a more inclusive and diverse workplace, and staff have prepared a plan that they believe will create the circumstances to best do that. An Employment Systems Review in 2015 shows that the City has a good base to build from, and that nearly three-quarters of City of Guelph employees feel that they work in an environment that’s open and accepts individual differences. In all, $15,000 will be invested from various human resources budgets to build leadership skills, develop new tools and guidelines, and engage with people inside and outside the corporation on hiring and retaining a diverse workforce.

IDE-2019-55 Downtown Community Improvement Plan: Background Report: 2010-2018 and Potential CIP Review Directions – This report provides Committee with a background and update on the plan, which is a program meant to spur private investment in the downtown core. In all, the City spent about $32.5 million in grants between 2010 and 2018, including investments in brownfield remediation, and heritage protections. Moving forward, staff are looking at creating a long-term funding model for a more permanent version of the Tax Increment Based Grant (TIBG) program, which could go into effect as soon as 2021. Staff are also recommending that the City be more choosy with projects by determining the annual allocation of funds with a call for proposals, as well as focusing less on residential projects, and more on commercial and industrial buildings. Despite all this, the recent passage of Bill 108 might still have an effect on when and how these changes might go into effect. In the meantime, staff continue to revise their plans and before consultation with stakeholders.

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