The Council meeting had a very packed agenda on Monday and with that and other matters keeping us busy, we apologize for keeping readers “in suspense” over what transpired at Council.
Notably missing from the meeting was Mayor Bentley, so Alderman Seaborn took the reins as Deputy Mayor
Our notes below capture discussion on:
- THE BIODIGESTER
- Where are we GO-ing? – Draft Secondary Plan
- Where is the $9M?
- Where are the NPI dividends?
- What about Section 37?
- What’s the Facilities Asset Plan is going to do to our taxes?
- Who’s going to park where?
- Where can they put that fill? By-law, that is …
GO Transit Implementation Project – Region of Niagara Presentation (Page 52 of the Agenda)
Diana Morreale, Planning Lead, brought Council up to speed on the status of the GO project. There are normally 6 phases and the next step is phase 4. This phase involves consultations and a public information centre (PIC 2) to present the draft Secondary Plan for the designated transit station area and prepare the public for the next PIC 3 to be held later in the fall of 2017. Additional changes to the draft Land Use Plan are expected to be presented at the PIC 2.
Phase 5, Station Area Design, is in the hands of Metrolinx, who is working with the Region and Town on details. A question was asked if we are on schedule. The speaker’s response was that we are a couple of months behind, but still able to complete the project.
Alderman Berry asked about the Livingston Avenue extension and the speaker reaffirmed that a portion of the Casablanca EA will look at Livingston in relation to the station site and that a future EA will look at the remaining area. Alderman Johnston asked if there will be a public open house for the Livingston EA. The speaker responded that the EA had previously been paused, but now that it is proceeding, there will be a public process.
Alderman Dunstall asked about the church property abutting the station site. The speaker noted that Metrolinx had identified the property in 2011 and once they determine their property needs, will then purchase a portion of the property for the short term, with the option to purchase more in the long term.
Alderman DiFlavio asked if a “comment matrix” will be used, similar to that used for the Winston Neighbourhood Secondary Plan showing all the public’s questions and responses from the Region in one table. The speaker indicated that yes, feedback will be compiled from the public and the information will be made available.
NOTE THIS DATE: PIC 2, the public open house (drop in with poster boards) for the GO train draft Secondary Plan will be October 23rd from 5-7 pm at Town Hall. All of Grimsby will be impacted. This is your last chance to speak your mind about what you think needs to happen around the station area.
Read more in this Grimsby Lincoln News post: https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/7564029-secondary-plan-nearing-completion-for-go-station-area/
The Biodigester (Not on the Agenda, however Alderman Berry raised the matter)
Alderman Berry noted that there would be a press release tomorrow (September 19) regarding comments made about odour issues resulting from the biodigester. He stated that Chris Medland, with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Spills Centre, has not received any complaints. The operators have not received any complaints. Council and residents should direct their concerns to the Spills Action Centre at the MOE at:
EDIT: As we found out from reading Niagara News Now, the best contact for Biodigester complaints is Chris Medland, MOE Officer, 905-704-3912 (Direct Line).
More information can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/report-spill
He repeated that the Spills Centre is where complaints should go. Alderman Kadwell commented that he had received three complaints and forwarded them to the Biodigester Program Manager. Alderman Berry countered that all complaints should go to the MOE and let the experts handle it. Alderman Johnston stated, “don’t contact your Council, MOE knows the answers, they’re the professionals.”
Alderman Berry responded, “anyone can call anybody, but should contact the Spill Centre, they’re the regulatory body.”
EDIT: Local media did receive the press release, however it was not publicly posted on the Town website.
Facilities Asset Plan – Watson & Associates and Burnside Consultants (Page 16)
There is a lot of tough decisions having to be made in the next round of budget deliberations because the draft plan as it stands would result in a 2.94% tax increase. As Alderman Mullins put it, “I don’t know how we can sell it…”.
Strategies on which assets must be replaced, which repairs can be postponed, what critical safety and service levels need to be maintained, will all need to be carefully reviewed and vetted before determining an acceptable tax impact.
This framework will serve as an excellent tool to help with the decision making process. The consultants noted that Grimsby is in the top 5-10% of municipalities for which they have reviewed asset plans.
Grimsby Power Inc. – Presentation by Remy Fernandes, CEO (Page 40 of the agenda)
And… the $9M NRBN question again…
The CEO provided Council with an update on the operations of GPI.
Some key points mentioned in his presentation were:
- 92% corporate performance is the highest score to date.
- 25% of the a hydro bill comes to Grimsby Power, 75% goes elsewhere.
- Getting and retaining experienced, competent staff is a major concern.
- Technology updates, such as remote device technology, would improve service delivery.
- The main concern of the 25% of clients who were not happy (the Customer Satisfaction Index) was pricing, but this was before the Fair Hydro Plan was introduced.
- Grimsby Power serves 11,250 clients and expects 1,000 or more over the next few years with growth.
- Niagara West Transformation Corporation is a capital asset of GPI and requires some modifications (green energy) and regular maintenance, but is otherwise in good shape.
Alderman DiFlavio asked if the Town could expect to see it’s share of the dividends. Another officer of the company indicated that 90% had been paid to Niagara Power and 10% to Fortis.
Town Manager Brandt noted that the 2010 NPI dividends haven’t been received yet and according to a Town bylaw regarding the GPI dividends, they were written off last year and the Town won’t attempt to collect them. So… what are the odds that any will come our way?
Alderman Johnston asked about the $9M from the sale of the Niagara Region Broadband Network. Alderman Berry responded that as indicated previously, that information won’t be released publicly and he hopes to hold a shareholder’s meeting. Read more on the history in our previous post here …
Grimsby Lincoln News captured the spirited discussion between Alderman Johnston and Alderman Berry: https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/7564193-questions-continue-year-after-broadband-sale-by-grimsby/
Admin & Finance Minutes
You can read them here: https://grimsby.civicweb.net/filepro/documents?expanded=1127,1351,79475&preview=86475
One item to note is the substantial increase in WSIB premiums ($600K) due to “presumptive cancer”. Due to the exposure of harmful contaminants that firefighters receive in their careers, they are at higher risk for certain cancers and thus potential liability claims have to be shown on the “books”.
Public Works Minutes
You can read them here: https://grimsby.civicweb.net/filepro/documents?expanded=1127,1128,79617&preview=86473
Alderman Berry noted that the electric vehicle charging station at the LCBO lot has received some damage from people running over the “hoses” (we think he means cables), costing $2000 per “hose” to repair.
Also, parking on Place Polonaise (Branthaven Lakehouse development) is being reviewed and some changes to the location of visitor parking are being considered.
Some arguments are for moving parking to the south side to enhance the vistas for those driving by, others prefer parking on the north side (where it was originally) for safety of pedestrians accessing the abutting park and not having to cross the road.
Town Manager Brandt commented that he “doesn’t think it will be fast moving traffic”. We think a site visit now, on a Saturday or Sunday might change that perspective.
Do you know the names of the other streets in the new Lakehouse subdivision? Hint: one is the name of a former Prime Minister. From the Grimsby Heritage Advisory Committee minutes of February 2, 2016:
a) Street naming, 480 Winston Road
The Town is going to be naming condo roads for new development. Condo roads have previously not been named, but the increase in the amount of condo developments has lead to a requirement to name condo roads from an Emergency Services perspective.
Moved by J. Watt; Seconded by S. Porter;
RESOLVED, that the Committee receives the request for street names for the development at 480 Winston Road;
And that the Committee will research and provide a list of names to staff for the March 1, 2016 meeting that will be further screened for appropriateness with respect to EMS requirements and subsequently provided to the developer and the Town for use.
Planning & Development Minutes
More discussion on Section 37 height bonusing and the consultant’s recommendations that a clear and transparent policy framework be developed.
The interim Fill By-law was passed and will be effective immediately.
Further consultations with stakeholders will take place prior to a final by-law being brought forward to Council by year’s end. The interim by-law is intended as a stop-gap.
And if you made it all the way down here, thanks for reading!