In case you’re wondering at Council Tuesday night, I can only answer that second hand as I missed it. Yes, sorry, but I got sick had I gone last night, I would have interrupted them so often that it would have slowed them down even more. Anyway, here’s my understanding of what was accomplished: not much.
I guess I’d better explain. There were a number of interesting issues to come forward, but there wasn’t enough information on most of them, or at least not the information new questions raised, so they were all deferred. Those issues are as follows:
- They were supposed to pass a new by-law last night, making it mandatory for everyone to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of their homes within 24 hours of an event. Wait. Didn’t we already have to do that? Well, no, although many believed the by-law still to be in place. It was actually repealed in 1999. Well, now it’s coming back, and the problem of the City clearing the sidewalks fronting their own properties has been solved, well maybe. You know that sidewalk ploughing you’ve been getting as a pilot project if you live on a bus route? Well, it’s gone. The resources will be used to clear the aforementioned City frontage. There is a clause there, however, that could prove interesting: you don’t have to shovel if the snow was put there by someone else. I assume this to mean that you don’t have to clear plough ridges or the snow that you neighbour’s snow blower deposits on your half of the driveway. The reason this issue was deferred, however, is a clause about clearing roofs if they overhang a sidewalk or public road. Council decided the language needs refinement.
- Rental licensing for houses with four or less rooms was also put off as it raised questions about those with more. It also leaves questions about the houses with more rooms or those that already exist (usually such circumstances are “grandfathered”). Some also question the wisdom of letting the landlords be self-reporting. So, deferred.
- The other biggie was a move to curb long-term and overnight parking in the main lot below Front St., off Towpath St., by restricting parking to two hours. However, there are no allowances for parking for store employees who park there, either free or for a fee. So it was sent back too. They might also want to consider the fact that a City that accepts cash in lieu of parking has, in my opinion, taken on the responsibility of providing parking for those who live in the buildings in question, including all those students for whom landlords were let out of parking spaces by paying the fees.
Other things that were discussed, besides the normal paying of bills, accepting minutes and correspondence, etc., were as follows:
- Councillor Handley had requested that staff bring back the report about Council pay that was done in 2013 for the previous Council. They did so last night and the Councillor then asked that it be updated and then brought before Council. It will be done but I personally can’t see a raise for Council fly in light of this budget.
- Councillor Neale brought forward the increasing problem of trains in Port Robinson, a problem that had been resolved for a number of years. It’s back now, ever since Niagara Falls Mayor Diodatti kicked them out of his City, leaving them with Port Robinson, as the Councillor and I both found out after the Turkey Roll at Station #3. We ended up parked, one behind the other as we waited – fortunately it was only 10 or 15 minutes this time. Council voted to have staff talk to CN.
- Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold had requested that the City use its Clean Yards by-law to solve the problem of items left on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the by-law will enforce it but the property owner is the one charged, so staff suggested they tell Community Care that they can’t help them.
- Regional Councillor and Police Services Board Bob Gale had come to a previous Council meeting to convince Thorold to buy into Regional consolidation of dispatch services (including all emergency services), promising all kinds of savings resulting from doing so. Thorold Fire Chief Michael Seth reported that there was no way of determining the costs of switching over (equipment, etc.) and suggested Council turn it down. They listened.
- Some of you may be aware that Councillor Shawn Wilson has been away from Council for some time due to serious illness. The procedural by-law requires that, at three months of absence, Council decide formally whether to extend the leave for another three months, usually without pay. Tuesday night, Council voted to extend leave, with pay.