It’s a jammed-packed agenda at March’s Committee of the Whole meeting; dare we say there’s something for everyone? From the desk of Corporate Services we’ve got some budget information. From Public Services we’re going to hear more about trees and AirBnBs. And then, it’s the big one, how we’re going to build the South End Community Centre with all the economic pressures. All that, and there’ll be some Audit stuff too.
NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting in-person or via tele-presense but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on Friday March 3. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.
NOTE #2: In addition to meeting in-person, this meeting will also be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.
Corporate Cyber Security Briefing – Sounds like it could be serious given the trend of cyber and ransomware attacks, but since this falls under Section239(2) (a) of the Municipal Act relating to the security of the property of the Municipality or Local Board, committee will discuss it in closed session.
70 Fountain Street East: Ontario Land Tribunal Direction Follow-up – Council passed the bylaw relating to this decision from the OLT a few weeks ago, but apparently there’s still more to talk about under Section 239 (2) (f) of the Municipal Act due to advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.
1) Fire Chief Dave Elloway will be on hand to receive accolades as he prepares to end his firefighting career.
2) Liz McGee, Clerical Assistant, will be recognized for receiving a Diploma in Municipal Administration, with Honours.
3) Community Emergency Management Co-ordinator Brendan Macmullin, Lead Hand from Materials Recovery Facility Dave Martin, Customer Service Co-ordinator Heather Macpherson, Program Manager from Parks Business Services Lee Merner, Business Services Manager Mathew Newman, Environmental Engineering Supervisor Prasoon Adhikari, Supervisor, and Customer Service and Customer Experience Program Manager Stacey Hare are all now 2022 Lean Green Belt Graduates.
4) Shanna O’Dwyer, Manager of Financial Reporting and Accounting, can now added Masters of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University to her credentials.
2022 Municipal and School Board Election Report – Presented for the committee’s information, a full accounting of the organization, promotion, and facilitation of last year’s municipal election. That includes the money spent, which, you may be interested to know, came in under budget by $50,000.
As to the matter of low voter turnout, a poll done by Oracle Poll Research in November revealed that the number one reason people didn’t vote – at least among 23 per cent of those who responded – said that they had no interest or don’t vote in municipal elections. In second place with 15 per cent was “nothing changes” or “doesn’t matter” followed by either not liking the candidates and “no reason” both tied with 13 per cent.
The clerks’ office is now looking ahead to 2026 on a number of fronts including the ongoing investigation into remote accessible vote by mail, transitioning from the MPAC based voters’ list to Elections Ontario, an investigation into free transit on Election Day, and the development of electoral voting technology standards.
2023 Property Tax Policy – As usual with the March Committee of the Whole meeting, council has to approve the new tax policy, which is basically how the tax levy increase passed at budget time is turned into what you see on your tax bill. In 2023, for a single family detached property with a media value to $407,000, the impact is $194.95; $10.24 for the assessment role impact and the rest for the budget impact.
Revenue Budgeting Policy – Since budget matters are on the menu, we this additional report that will breakdown for committee how the various funding sources for the City are identified, allocated, and, in some cases, expanded. Apparently, the City does not currently have a policy governing the budgeting of revenue, and this document will aim to do that be approaching it from four different angles: User fees and charges, tax assessment growth, grants, and other forms of revenue, which would include fundraising, sponsorship and advertising.
Transit Advisory Committee: Terms of Reference – Last moth, the TAC voted to confirm some simple changes to their terms of reference in regards to how a few key members are chosen; representatives of the Guelph Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination and the University of Guelph administration will now both be appointed by their respective organizations. City council needs to affirm those changes.
One Canopy Tree Planting Strategy – The goal is to get to 40 per cent tree canopy coverage in Guelph by 2070, and right now we’re at 23.3 per cent. Another 17 per cent in 50 years? No problem, especially since this report clearly states that we have enough land to make it happen. Having said that, half the available land is on private property, and our current planing efforts will see us fall short of putting enough trees in the ground by 2031 to get to that canopy in 2070.
So what’s the plan? The City will need to increase outreach, education and partnerships, and they will also need to increase the funding needed for planting and maintenance. The plan has 42 different action points that cover short and long-term tasks, from a comprehensive review of available funding sources to continuous review and reporting to council to the incorporation of climate mitigation and soil conservation strategies. Committee will ask to receive the report and then bring measures back during the budget process.
Business Licensing: Short-Term Rental Accommodations – Picking up where we left off last March, further research has been done on whether to license or regulate short-term rentals, and how best that might be done. Committee will be asked to refer a list of recommendations to create a new short-term rental by-law that will come back to council for approval at a later date.
The recommendations from staff includes having someone available 24/7 and in-person within 30 minutes travel time, having limits on the number of guests and parking requirements, and creating a way that nuisance calls and other complaints can be handled. The bylaw might also define the “Host”, who can be the owner of the property or a long-term renter with written permission by the owner. It will also include an education campaign, and a review of the by-law after one year, which includes lots of data collection. Finally, short-term rentals will be limited to one per owner (not including the house they live in).
Internal Audit Work Plan 2023-2025 – GM of Internal Audit Robert Jelacic will present the results of the 2022 work plan, and what’s on tap for this year, plus the two years afterwards. For this year, the auditors will look specifically at hiring and recruitment practices, plus water meter replacement, service rationalization opportunities, and enterprise risk management. Information technology will be a big area of interest for the City in 2024 and 2025.
Implementation Strategy Report: South End Community Centre – Hey, remember the South End Community Centre? It was about this time last year that the City of Guelph announced that inflationary pressures had added about $50 million to price tag, but as luck would have it, the project may only end up costing about $35 million more to bring the budget up to $115.5 million.
How? Aquicon Construction, who have been hired as construction manager, shaved off about $24 million from the budget including a simplified heating and ventilation system, the removal of the rear courtyard, a simplified overall design including the removal of some hallways space, and a pause on public art commissions unless there’s some money left over.
The City is still planning on breaking ground this year, likely sometime in the fall, and the South End Community Centre is still on track for a 2026 opening. The plan has been changed to reduce the impact on the Larry Pearson ball diamonds, and the construction management model will evidently allow more flexibility to account for costs through the construction process. As for that additional $35.5 million the City needs to finish the job, about $34.7 million will coming from the Parks and Recreation Development Charge Reserve, and nearly $1.8 million will come from tax support debt funded through the Infrastructure Renewal Reserve Fund.