Commentary

100 days in office

March 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

Our elected members of Council started early, with a couple of social nights to get to know each other.   It seemed fitting to explore what everyone did outside of the campaign – work and family. This approach, I feel, has led to a Council that has respect for each other – respect for what each one of us will bring to the table over the next four years.

Staff welcomed this new council and prepared and delivered informative presentations.  We also attended the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) Council training before being sworn in. By Dec. 3, we were ready to work for our constituents. 

During the next 100 days, we would: 

• Request a new OPP costing

• Pass a budget with the lowest  tax increase in memory, while moving forward with several significant projects;

• Say NO to Planning Act Changes within Bill 66;

• Resolve a 15 year long debate regarding the Pullen Well; 

• Say yes to Cannabis Retailing – allowing for receipt of Provincial Grants to help with enforcement of DUI laws, training and equipment.

• Represent the residents at events, visit businesses and be involved in the community.   

Let’s have a look at some of these highlights, starting right at the first meeting and my motion for requesting new OPP Costing. 

OPP-OPS – Costing

I need to be clear – this is not about losing faith in our Police Chief, Officers, OPS or any unknown or perceived problems with our police force. This is about recognizing that we need to have hard conversations and find areas to further save money. A further fiscal review has lead to the December motion requesting the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) prepare a new costing proposal for the delivery of policing services for the Town of Orangeville.

Of equal interest to council is a level of service commitment. In addition to costing, we need a clear answer to several key questions such as:

• Response times for emergency and non-emergency calls

• Minimum police presence defined – Resident expectations for regular everyday police presence in the community and outreach programs in the schools

• Special event policing

• Transition opportunities to OPP for current officers and civilian staff.  

We, as Town Council, have an obligation in this process to get these answers and more. It is our duty to ensure that you have equal and uncensored information from both OPP and OPS in your hands. This will prepare residents for enhanced public engagement this time around by providing you with the means to voice your opinions, in person, group forums and electronically. 

In January 2019, an initial meeting was held between the Town of Orangeville and the OPP. Due to new OPP costing models, we expect this new costing to be available in May.  We will have 6 months to accept or reject the proposal. 

Town Budget

We got right down to business and started working on the 2019 budget. Our goal was to review each item and ensure that every dollar was spent wisely. 

CAO, Ed Brennan and staff gave us the beginning budget. The process was relatively smooth – we asked a lot of questions, staff prepared alternative suggestions, and we went back and forth for some time. 

In the end, we came up with the lowest tax increase for residents in decades, while moving forward with several important projects, including:  

• Improvements to the Town website, making it easier to find information, register for recreational activities and pay bills online

• Much-needed rework of Harvey Curry splash pad and park, including updating the splash pads and structures to meet CSA Safety Standards and the growing demand for this park

• Skilled Trades Workforce Group, an action group to address the needs of employment seekers and businesses in promoting and recruiting for skilled trades jobs

• Film & Television Office, to showcase the area and connect movie and television producers with shooting locations through a partnership with DBOT.  

• Accelerated a Parks and Recreation Master Plan consultation to 2019 from 2020 to get accurate information regarding our facilities, programs and usage before making any long-term spending decisions. 

The average homeowner whose home had a market value assessment of $363,000 in 2018, assuming there has been no change to the current value assessment, would see an approximate increase of $24.93 on the Town portion of their tax bill.

Congratulations to Town staff and Town Council for a collaborative effort to achieve this excellent result for the taxpayers of Orangeville.

Pullen Well

A more than 15 year negotiation regarding the Pullen Well ended in February with all sides reaching an agreement. This has cleared up any questions of who owns the land the well is currently sitting on and gives a clear path to move forward with the next steps to bring a well online. This will include a class environmental assessment, water treatment equipment and should be completed within the next two to three years. 

Based on past testing, this well is going to provide an important source of drinking water to meet the future needs of our residents.

The past 100 days have gone quickly, and I am looking forward to tackling the issues that are coming forward – creating a Transit Task Force, Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Sustainability Neighbourhood Action Plan, Railway Development planning and new issues that directly affect our community. 

Continue to provide your input, this Council is listening! 



         

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