City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the October 26 Meeting?

The end of October brings what will likely be a fairly lengthy discussion at council about the role the City should or needs to play in the creation of affordable and supportive housing in our town. Along with that agenda item there will be all the leftover items from the Committee of the Whole meeting plus a formal endorsement of a request for more financial aid from the upper levels of government.

NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting via telephone, but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on Friday October 23. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.

NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.

Phase 2 Safe Restart Funding: Municipal Operating Relief – The deadline for the application to receive the second part of the Safe Restart Funding is October 30, but a council resolution is required before the finance staff will have a chance to finalize the latest quarterly financials. The trick with this phase of restart funding is that the City has to prove that the first phase of funding they’ve received is not enough to cover the municipality’s losses for the year, so there’s no assurance that the City of Guelph will see any extra money. (Of course, it could be argued that’s a good thing because it means the City is in a financially strong position.)

In August, it was announced that the City had received $6.9 million for operating costs and $5.1 million to cover lost operating revenue for transit. The staff report says that the City received those funds from the Government of Ontario in September. The third quarter operating variance report is expected to come back for council’s consideration at the November 27 regular meeting.

Supportive and Affordable Housing Update – This report follows up on the August 24 council meeting where staff was directed to work with the Drop In Centre to determine a source of funding to help them buy Parkview Motel and turn it into 36 units of permanent supportive housing. The exploration of what kind of financial resources this and other projects need has revealed that significant funding is needed for these kinds of projects, and that the City might not have the technical expertise to oversee them.

At that August meeting, one of the resolutions passed by council asked staff to look at how to work with the County of Wellington on ways to let the County take an active role in affordable housing incentives from the City of Guelph. The teams have not met to look at those terms, but the staff report makes it clear that they are deficient in housing expertise:

“Previously, the City of Guelph had staff positions directly responsible for the oversight of social services files, including housing –these positions included the General Manager of Community and Social Services, and the Social Services Policy Liaison. Both of these positions were eliminated in 2014, and so we no longer have subject matter experts on staff who have the available time and expertise to adequately address these complex housing issues or to provide appropriate advice and guidance to Council.”

In the meantime, the report says that the City is aware of approximately $3.5 million in formal and informal requests for financial assistance for supportive and/or affordable housing projects in the form of direct grants, fee waivers or land donations. That would dig a nearly $4 million hole in the Affordable Housing Reserve account, and that’s just for the projects *currently* on the slate, and yes, one of those would be the Parkview conversion project.

As for the Drop In Centre’s purchase of the Parkview Motel, the City of Guelph’s buy-in is $540,000. Although the staff report notes that the Drop In Centre is in good financial shape already owning three properties and not carrying any debt, they still warn that there is significant financial risk because there’s a possibility that the Drop In Centre could buy the property with City help, but will be unable to find funding to complete the project. Staff is recommending that if council wants to give the Drop In Centre its commitment to the project then it should only be a written commitment to hand over the funds when other fiduciary conditions are met.

The one immediate fiscal impact of this report a motion to allow Habitat for Humanity to pay their $282,631 development charges bill in six equal installments over six years for their project on Cityview Drive.

Consent Agenda items from the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 5.* (Items can be pulled by a councillor seeking additional information, otherwise all items will be voted on as a slate without further debate.)

  • Appointment of the External Auditor
  • Sign By-law Variance for 292 Speedvale Avenue West
  • Ministry of Transportation Connecting Links Program – 2021-2022 Application – York Road Reconstruction: Stevenson Street to Victoria Road
  • Draft Recommendation for the New Sign By-law

*The Baker Project and South End Community Centre, which were discussed and approved at Committee of the Whole, were ratified by council at a special meeting on October 7.

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