Happy Summer Solstice! It is my pleasure to submit my first report, as your newest Ward 4 Councillor, to the SSCA.* Here are some of the things we have been working on since the new council formed in December.
Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) presented to Council their on-going efforts supporting community ‘Phragbusting’. Council included financial support for GBF’s initiatives in our budget. We also recognize the efforts of hundreds of volunteers over countless hours, which are having a real impact limiting the spread of Phragmites.
Of course, the fight against Phrag is not limited to the Township’s boundaries. Prompted by our Township’s delegation to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation last summer, staff from that Ministry will be visiting the TOA this fall to see first-hand not only the impact of Phragmites on roads and highways, but also how these linear features act as conduits for the weed’s spread. We will take this and every opportunity to encourage the Ministry to commit to best practices for Phrag management.
The provincial government invited input on a Discussion Paper, “Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities.” We submitted a thoughtful response, emphasizing the need for full producer responsibility for products and packaging. The complete Discussion Paper and TOA response are found here.
The Township endorses Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature increase to below 2°C. Following a presentation by the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve (GBBR), Council passed resolutions to actively participate in an initiative to combat climate change through the Federal Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection framework. We look forward to partnering with our neighbour municipalities and First Nations on this critical work.
The Township is also supporting the GBBR in its application to the federal government to establish Community-Nominated Priority Places for Species at Risk.
The Township’s Official Plan (OP) review was completed last year and the new OP was approved by the Ministry (with some amendments) over the winter holidays. We have begun the process of re-writing the Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw. This process will take us well into 2020, and there will be plenty of opportunities for public involvement/engagement.
You may have seen this article in the Parry Sound news, portending a tax hike. The article is sort of accurate, and you will hear more from Dave Ashley when the final tax bills come out very shortly. The TOA already has reserves, so putting money aside is nothing new. And there really is a lot of… shall we say spontaneity, in this government’s approach to most things including municipal affairs. But a 2% increase in the tax rate is within the rate of inflation (depending on your MPAC assessment, you could see your actual taxes payable go up more or less than 2%).
TOA Councillors and Staff are engaged in the development of Strategic Directions and Priorities for this term of Council. The Deerhorn Conference will be re-established as a forum for effective and transparent communication among TOA stakeholders. We will host this event on October 5 at the Stockey Center in Parry Sound; details TBA.
Amalgamation is a potential threat to our unique environment, services, Official Plan, influence and leadership in the Region. We don’t know what the province intends to do; our strategy has been to be ahead of the game, communicating at every opportunity both our uniqueness and how well we already work efficiently and effectively with our neighbouring municipalities.
* Dave Ashley, Rick Zanussi and I will provide updates on a regular but not monthly basis. If you want to know what the Township is doing on a more up-to-the-minute basis, I recommend you (a) connect to the TOA on social media (Facebook & Twitter), (b) register for the TOA’s E-Newsletter; (c) follow my FB page, and/or (d) for the real nitty gritty, Committee & Council agendas & minutes are posted on the Township web site. Also, each of us is available if you want to contact us directly.