The Council agenda was pretty bare again this week with just a few crumbs thrown in for good measure … here’s the agenda and our notes:
The minutes are also posted on the Town website. You will find them quite sparse as they (interestingly enough) don’t capture much of the discussion: https://grimsby.civicweb.net/filepro/documents?expanded=1127&preview=90199
Admin & Finance Minutes
As budget deliberations continue, A&F has decided to change the start time of committee meetings to 3:30 pm (from 4:30 pm) on a “trial basis”. We’re not sure of the purpose of this “trial”, but it sure does dampen the ability of the public, many of whom work, to be able to attend upcoming meetings. The next meeting is Monday, February 12, 2018.
Alderman Mullins addressed the new fee for overdue water accounts:
“Overdue water account – transfer to tax: a new fee to recover the costs of transferring overdue water amounts to tax. This fee will replace the current process of disconnecting the water for accounts in arrears and the related $80 in on and off charges. Estimated net fee revenue: $5,800 (tax); $1,560 (water)”
She explained that outstanding water accounts, which were previously subject to disconnection, will now be added to the property taxes. Instead of disconnection and reconnection fees, there will be a fee to administer the paperwork of adding the overdue account to the property taxes. Aldermen viewed this as a positive in that residents (and rental tenants) would not have their water shut off, a basic need, in the event of failure to pay their water bill.
We note that this shifts the payment responsibility directly to the property owner and may have very serious implications for potential purchasers of property as purchasers may inherit liabilities that will show up as a surprise on the tax bill. This impacts not just residential properties, but also larger employment, industrial and manufacturing businesses.
Planning & Development Minutes
Alderman DiFlavio provided an overview of the 27 John Street development zoning amendment application and the resulting lengthy discussion on the number of shared visitor parking spaces available. Although the developer was hoping to assign some of the visitor spaces to units (to be owned, on title), the committee passed the resolution that the 14 spaces (2 of which are accessible spots), remain as “shared visitor parking” to be used by both residents and visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. He stated that the condominium board will be responsible for setting the rules and enforcement.
Alderman Kadwell noted the setback from the CN crash wall was moved to 20.5m from 27.5m and inquired how high the crash wall would be. Alderman DiFlavio stated that the width of the wall had also been reduced to 0.9m thick from 2.0m and that he did not know the height, but that it would be discussed at site plan and determined by CN engineers as they would have specific requirements with regards to liability, etc.
Alderman Berry inquired if sprinklers for all units had been discussed. Alderman DiFlavio said that they had only had a brief discussion with the developer but that it was “on the radar” and would be dealt with at the site plan stage.
Alderman Wilson had requested that Planning staff provide updates regarding planning matters on a regular basis. Alderman Johnston also said it would be helpful to post these updates on the Town website. The Mayor noted that often discussions are only preliminary and they haven’t reached a “certain stage” in the process. Developers can post a sign on their property advertising an upcoming development without even having discussed anything with Planning staff. Alderman DiFlavio said that he would request that updates be provided.
The OMB appeal decision for 560 North Service Road (LJM Developments – Waterview Phase 2) was mentioned. As we noted in our previous post, we are disappointed but remain committed to speaking up when growth and development does not respect the Official Plan and the community’s vision for Grimsby.
Niagara This Week posted this article on the decision: https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/8075504-omb-dismisses-appeal-against-15-storey-condo/
Correspondence from Other Municipalities
Alderman Kadwell asked that Council endorse the correspondence from the City of St. Catharines requesting that the NPCA Board disclose the total amounts spent on the lawsuit against Ed Smith, and the suit by the NPCA’s then CAO, which the NPCA also funded.
He noted that Grimsby has provided funding of over $478,670 to the NPCA and has a vested interest. Mayor Bentley stated that the governance of the NPCA is that it would have to be a board decision if they wish to disclose and that we have no jurisdiction.
Alderman Seaborn stated that she had hoped Regional Councillor Quirk (who was absent) would have been at the meeting and asked if it could be put off until the next meeting to address with him. Alderman DiFlavio stated that he was told costs would be disclosed when the case is completed and suggested that perhaps the case is just not finished yet. Mayor Bentley agreed that the correspondence could be received and it could be raised at the next Council meeting when Councillor Quirk can provide an explanation.
In addition to the events/announcements in the minutes, Alderman Johnston asked how deaths are made known to the Town for its records and the list of eligible voters. The Mayor noted that if the death occurs in Grimsby, we would be advised but if it was in another community, we may not know. The obligation to advise the Town would rest with the immediate family/next of kin.
Alderman Johnston noted with all the delays with garbage and recycling pickup, that some resident’s Christmas trees were still at the curb. The Mayor was not sure if they could still be picked up, but would enquire.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading!