Committee of the Whole Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the March 7 Meeting?

March comes in like a lion at city council as next month’s Committee of the Whole will tackle a variety of fairly contentious issues including the fallout from a heritage property demolition last fall and the compensation for the next iteration of city council to be elected later this year. At the same meeting, committee will aim to add some oversight to those groups receiving Community Benefit Agreements.

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 March 4. 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.

STAFF RECOGNITIONS: CAO Scott Stewart, Deputy CAO Trevor Lee, and GM of Human Resources Mark Ellis will mark the City of Guelph’s acclaim as one of the Top Employers in the Greater Waterloo area for 2022.

797 Victoria Road North Debrief – You may recall a hurried city council debate last fall about the demolition of a heritage building at 797 Victoria Road North as a matter of public safety. The confusion about council procedures and difficulty in fully exploring closed meeting subject matter in open session created something of a confidence crisis last October, and there was a promise from staff that they would address the issues in a future report.

A team of City of Guelph staff members dug into the problem as directed by city council and reached four conclusions about how the debate over 797 Victoria’s fate got some out of hand: Lack of understanding about the lifecycle management of heritage properties; no clear process about what to do with a heritage property not in use; a lack of clarity and understanding of the roles of various parties; and, confusion about which legislation takes priority.

Identifying the problems was the first part of the mission, the second part was to find solutions, and there are 14 recommendations that will be presented to council. Some of them are pretty straightforward like updating the status of heritage properties, doing proactive monitoring, and implementing a process for managing untenanted heritage properties. Some of the recommendations will take a little longer though to enact, like the creation of heritage property management guidelines, and creating requirements for the heritage property owners that will require a lot of outreach with private owners as well as various governments and agencies.

The internal auditor will look at the new policies and directions coming out of this process and report back to council in 2023.

City Council Remuneration and Support Advisory Committee Report – This the final piece for how city council will be orientated after the next election. The results of the committee seem to have determined that while the mayor will get a pay cut, members of council will get a big pay bump commensurate with the determination that councillors should be full-time workers. If council doesn’t want to be considered full-time, there is an option to keep them part-time but with a nearly $10,000 pay bump in the next term if that’s a more acceptable option. In terms of staff support for council, the committee said that they need some more data about the workload before making a determination and advised returning to the subject in two years.

2022 Property Tax Policy – As usual when it comes time for the Committee of the Whole meeting in March, council needs to approve the new assessments for the next property tax bill. From the report, “In 2022, the taxpayer with an average residential property assessed at $389,970 (based on 2016 Current Value Assessment valuation date) will be levied $4,019.47 in City taxes for an overall property tax increase of $165.77.”

Community Benefit Agreements, Councillor O’Rourke Motion – The motion will ask staff to look at establishing more rigorous accountability and reporting requirements for any group with a Community Benefit Agreement worth $200,000 or more. The new annual report to council is expected to include details about deliverables and expectations, as well as how they’re measured, and this would include the community impact as well.

Community Benefit Agreements,  Councillor Gibson Motion – Still with Community Benefit Agreements, this motion will direct staff include an addendum to the CBAs asking recipients to adopt ethical rules in-line with the City’s Code of Conduct as it applies to both city council and local boards and advisory committees.

See the complete agenda on the City of Guelph website here

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