Wednesday is the monthly COVID-19 update meeting of city council, and it seems like there’s going to be a lot to update. From financial affairs, to the re-opening of patios, to the eventual re-opening of City services, there’s a lot that has to be covered in this month’s special pandemic-themed council meeting.
One portion of the meeting will deal exclusively with the changes to the City of Guelph’s patio bylaws and the temporary seasonal patio program announced Thursday. Since the program means setting aside some bylaws and the collection of fees in order to operate, the program needs council’s endorsement to proceed. The changes to the various bylaws will expire with the program on October 31.
The City of Guelph is also looking to support businesses by waiving the $85 permit fee to set up a mobile sign to help with re-opening promotion. All other sign bylaw regulations will remain intact, but it will cost the City about $25,000 more in lost revenue.
In terms of the financial stakes, the current cost of the pandemic for the City stands at $11.85 million, which suggests that things are stabilizing since last month’s estimate put things at $11.8 million. The additional lost revenue is for the waiver of the sign bylaw fees. The second quarter operating variance report in September will have more detailed analysis, but the City is still looking at between $4 and 8 million in an operating deficit by the end of the year.
In terms of raising funds, staff will be asking council to endorse a plan to reinstate transit and parking fees in July. Parking and transit passes for March will be recognized for July, but if you need to buy a new transit pass, you will need to do it at either ServiceGuelph or Guelph Transit, which are the only places you will be able to make cash sales. Still, Transit is insisting that people pay with debit or credit cards, or buy their passes online.
Yes, ServiceGuelph will be re-opening, and the City is looking at re-opening other facilities too. Staff are installing plexiglass, floor decals to direct one-way foot traffic, and touch-less water fountains, but there’s currently no date for when City facilities might re-open. Whether or not you have to start paying those transit and parking fees again on July 6 is contingent on ServiceGuelph and the parking office re-opening safely.
Outside City Hall there might be some stuff re-opening soon. Staff are working on a plan to re-open the Market Square wading pool, and are looking at making a place for picnic tables in a fenced-in area where people can enjoy some time outside. If you feel like a dip in the pool, there are also plans afoot to re-open the Lyon Leisure Pool on York Road, and while admission fees will be waived for 2020, there will be time restrictions on pool use.
The City is also looking for ways to re-open public washrooms in Market Square, and in public parks. Operating hours for washrooms will be limited so that they can be on a more thorough cleaning schedule.
Finally, staff are already looking to find a new spot for the COVID-19 assessment centre. An alternative site for the centre will have to be found if the Victoria Road Recreation Centre is to be re-opened at some point, and that will have to be co-ordinated with the Guelph Family Health Team.
Council will be asked to vote on seven resolutions that cover all these directions.