February’s Committee of the Whole meeting brings Corporate and Public Services matters to council, including changes to development charges, debt management policy, and, in more controversial affairs, the implementation of the leash free bylaw.
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 January 31.
CS-2020-02 Debt Management Policy Update – The City must occasionally update it’s Debt Management Policy to ensure that they’re making the right moves to finance large-scale capital projects and maintain the AA+ credit rating. After a review, staff is proposing a couple of key changes including improved debt reporting, creating a comprehensive set of ratios for caps and debt levels, finding ways to use internal lending more often, and expanding the eligibility of projects to include infrastructure renewal projects.
CS-2020-23 Development Charge Interest Policy – Among the coming changes when Bill 108 goes into effect is the timing of when Development Charges are applied, and when they’re expected to be paid. Other changes include the potential deferral of DCs, and when a freeze in the collection of interest can go into effect. When this official begins is still to be determined, but the City has to be ready when it does.
CS-2020-04 2019 Financial Condition Assessment and Proposed Long-term Financial Framework – The City creates a new budget every year, but it still has to look out for the long term financial viability of Guelph. According to the staff report, the overall financial condition of the City has improved since 2015 with reserves and reserve funds getting increases, but there are demands on the system in the form of aging infrastructure, growth and changing service demands. To meet those challenges, staff has updated the Debt Management Policy (see above), and have created a Revenue Policy, a Growth Cost Management Policy, and the Multi-year Budget Policy, which will be unveiled later this year.
CS-2019-103 Development Fee Exemptions or Waivers – This was an information report requested by council about how to respond to requests for waivers and exemptions to Development Charge fees. There was a list of discretionary examples that came out of the 2018 DC Background Study that included hospitals, private parking structures, university buildings, and places of worship and burial grounds. The Growth Funding Strategy covers the costs of those exemptions in the form of grants, and council provides that framework. Enter Bill 108, which allows DC deferrals to be extended to long-term care homes, retirement homes, hospices, and not-for-profit housing. No firm start date has been set for these changes to go into effect.
PS-2020-01 238 Willow Road Application – Guelph Independent Living is converting a residential recreational room into two new units, which means that they’re adding to the density of the site, and that they have to pay into parkland. Since it’s unlikely that new parkland will be found on a property that’s already developed, there are two options for cash-in-lieu: pay based on the size of the property, or pay based on the new density. Since this is affordable housing, staff is recommending the cheaper option, which is density.
PS-2020-02 Leash Free Implementation Plan – The Leash Free regulations and the creation of two new leash free dog parks was passed at council last summer, but the implementation has not been without controversy. Fenced in areas at Peter Misersky Park, and Bristol Street have seen complaints about noise, traffic, and people not properly disposing of their dog’s – ahem – business. Staff, as promised, has been monitoring the situation, and a couple of feedback sessions were held in the fall. Staff has gone though all that feedback and has prepared responses to concerns at individual parks. For now, the one big change is that the Lee Street Park upgrades will proceed without a fenced in portion.