In addition to the larger stories, other items go through Thorold City Council and General Committee. Some may be important to someone affected and others are just a little interesting. The following are some of those items:
This past Tuesday was an odd night, in that the Council portion went on for over an hour and a half, while General Committee was breezed through in just under a half hour, the opposite of most nights. The length of Council was due largely to the lengthy while the brevity of Committee was a result of an agenda that consisted largely of what I call “caretaker” items: bills paid, interim tax bill released, the CAO’s report on objectives for the next four years, routine planning matters, committee appointments, etc.
The third presenter Tuesday, after the Runway of Recognition and the Santa Claus Parade, was Bridget Benn, Municipal Advisor from the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. For the first I’ve seen in all my years of Council, she was there for a Council Orientation. In other words, she was there to tell Council what their jobs are and how to do them.
Councillor Jim Handley brought forward his motion for a zoning amendment to restrict the areas where a medical marijuana growing operation can be placed. Councillor Fred Neale offered a friendly amendment, duly accepted, that the allowed area(s) not be near schools or residential areas. Mayor Ted Luciani suggested that the operations should be in a dry industrial area such as Allanport Rd. The motion passed unanimously.
Councillor Neale also suggested that, in regards to the drive for GO Transit in Niagara, the City of Thorold should push for the “Go South Initiative”, which would go through Thorold on existing track.
The subject of Canada Post’s drive to deprive Canadians of their mail delivery service also came up, brought forward by Councillor Neale. He pointed out that the City of Hamilton expects to be on the hook for $2.1 million in work such as the concrete pads for the mail boxes, lighting, sidewalk and street improvements, etc. Councillor Mike Charron suggested that, should Council support a resolution by CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers), they should add a demand that the federal government pay the bills, saying, “People who lose services should not be paying to lose those services.” (Unfortunately, if the feds pay for it, the people losing the services will still be paying, just at a different level.)
Mayor Luciani brought up the Ontario Ombudsman’s Report, in which he says he was cleared. (Actually, it was Council that was cleared.) He complained that the complaint had been lodged by a certain “Mr. X” and the Ministry won’t tell him who it is. The Mayor went on to say that he should be able to know who makes accusations against him.
Councillor Terry Ugulini asked for a Staff report regarding traffic calming measures for the 1.8 km long, U-shaped Winterberry Blvd. in the West Community. Engineering Manager Shawn Dunsmore asked that the request be dropped as the road hasn’t yet been fully assumed Councillor Fred Neale from the developer since construction is yet on-going. (Developers build the roads and then, when the subdivision is finished, turn them over to the City.) He said there would be three all-way stops going in along the road within two to two and a half weeks or less. A report for calming measures would require public meetings and take in the neighbourhood of two and half months to complete. Councillor Ugulini dropped the motion.
Councillor Neale pointed out a newspaper article which noted that the MTO is planning to redesign the 406 interchange at St. Davids Rd. How, Neale asked, will that affect the Mayor’s campaign promise concerning future work on that road? After stating that St. Davids Rd is the partial responsibility of the City of Thorold only as far as the interchange, the Mayor referred the question to Staff. Staff replied that they have received preliminary drawings from the MTO and that they would have input into the project and the MTO now has new policies regarding active transportation measures.
Councillor Handley, who was having difficult time with his malfunctioning microphone that night, wanted to know how much the City spends each year on contracts to plough snow on municipal property, citing one such contract at the Allanburg Community Centre. Staff responded that most properties are ploughed by the City. Only the community centres are cleared by contract, because they aren’t regularly used. The Councillor asked why, since the roads around community centres need to be ploughed anyways, why don’t the ploughs just take a turn through these lots, whether they’re being used that day or not? He suggested that such a move might save the City the money on the private ploughing contracts.
About the only publicly notable thing about the General Committee was the creation of two new ad hoc committees (committees only in place until they’ve completed their task). Since just about everyone has come to the conclusion that the Fire Services Review unveiled last year left a great deal to be desired, Council has struck an internal Ad Hoc Fire Services Review Committee. The two Councillors who will join Staff in this job are going to be Jim Handley and Mike Charron, with Councillor Sergio Paone as an alternate.
At the same time, an Ad Hoc Downtown Parking Advisory Committee was struck to deal with Councillor Terry Ugulini’s raised concern about the shortage of parking in the downtown area. Along with Staff, two Councillors will be on that committee: Councillor Ugulini and Tim Whelan, with Councillor Anthony Longo as an alternate.