Mayor's Message - April 29, 2018

Posted on Sunday April 29, 2018

Bonjour, Good Morning

 

I refuse to say that white stuff I am looking at out my front window is snow, that is my story, and I am sticking to it, is it simply a real heavy frost.  Spring is sure teasing us this year, gives us a glimpse than is gone again.  Sooner or later the weather will hold.   Despite the cold weather, there were plenty of folks enjoying the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival yesterday, I think most of them we’re from our area, as I walked about it seemed I knew every second person coming towards me.  Last night saw our Penetanguishene Sports Hall of Fame gather to recognize and honour our sporting heroes.  Last night was slightly different as the hometown heroes being recognized were the hard working folks that make so many good things happen behind the scenes, and almost always out of the spotlight. My congratulations goes out to all of our home town heroes, their families and their friends who were there to celebrate their well-deserved recognition.

 

Two development/re-zoning applications have been the hot topics in front of council these past few weeks. The status of each are found below;

 

Queens Court

You may recall that the council decision to deny both of the developers applications for Queens Court was  passed with 7  councillors being in favour of the denial and 2 councillors opposed.  The Developer immediately filed appeals on both matters.   The next step for Council on this matter sees the selection of a legal firm that can best defend the decision to deny.

 

The appeal submission by the developer to the OMB sees them wishing to present 5 witnesses to plead their case on the subdivision that was denied, and an additional 5 witnesses to plead their case on the denial of the rezoning. The Town will also require witnesses and days in front of the LPAT/OMB to defend the decision to deny. Cost-wise, we appear to be in for an estimated ten days at the LPAT/OMB plus pre-trial preparation with Lawyers and Witnesses. These costs play out at an average daily rate of $20,000 per day. Due to these conditions, the recommendation coming to Council for ratification is to include $300,000 in the 2018 budget to cover the legal fees. This represents a 3.41% increase in the town portion of your taxes. 

 

161 Church Street

Council voted 5 to 4 to deny proceeding with the zoning change with the result being the proposed 16 million dollar development that would have provided 50 affordable housing units will not be occurring. There are no legal ramifications as the county would not appeal this decision, what will now occur is the next in line affordable housing opportunity will be considered which is in the City of Barrie as their site was ranked 5th (recall ours was  4th on the list).

 

While I was opposed to both of the decisions above, I respect that the will of council was established through a democratic process that saw citizens engage, councilors debate and a votes taken.   One resident asked me at the end of the last meeting what happens next, my response was the will of council has been determined and we now move on.

 

I have been chewing on my move on response since that conversation and find myself over the course of the past few days, asking myself how exactly do we move on and what do we move on to?  As I search for answers I find that I am deeply concerned that what is currently occurring will become extremely problematic for the future of our Town. 

 

My concerns lie in the following area’s

 

NEAR NEIGHBOR RESISTANCE

Both applications faced organized near neighbor resistance. The near neighbor resistance had common elements, how the proposal may impact their lives, their area, their lifestyle and their habits.  Other opposition notes held in common were nature related, trees, wildlife, water, hillsides, birds, bees, bats and soil. The past few years have seen similar near neighbor resistance occur on five other proposed or under consideration development undertakings that saw the near neighbors share identical concerns. 

 

The remaining available lands to build in our town exist behind Cambridge Street, Rolling Sands (North of Kerr/Payette), Fuller Avenue/Pinegrove, along Thompsons and Robert St E. Given these lands all have trees, wildlife, water, soil, bugs, birds, are near wellhead protection areas and all will create more neighbourhood traffic it is not difficult to predict that near neighbor push back will be a permanent part of our towns future on each and every development application.  

 

How do future councils manage this, especially given the precedent that has been set in these two recent denial decisions, do future councils deny them all ?

 

In all 7 recent occurrences the near neighbors shared the opinion that there was a better location, somewhere else in town, for these developments.  This leaves me asking myself, if there will always be a better place than the neighbourhood proposed , how do we ever move forward ?  Where do we develop ? 

 

COST/ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS

The combined 161 Church Street and Queens Court denial decisions comes with considerable cost implications.

The loss of $1.4 million in development charges

The loss of 51 million dollars in investment in our town.

The loss of 167 construction related jobs

The loss of $550,000 per year in tax revenue

The loss of $100,000 per year in water and wastewater revenue,

 

The financial burden of a taxation increase to cover the $300,000 in legal costs.

 

One of the complaints we often hear is Penetanguishene has higher per household taxes than any other local municipality. The main reason for this is we have less homes sharing in the cost of running the town. If you added the 167 homes that these two facilities would have brought into this year’s 2018 budget , all of our taxes would have dropped.  For instance a home assessed at $250,000 would have seen a $87.50 per year tax reduction while a $500,000 home would have seen a $175.00 per year reduction in their taxes.

 

How do future councils square this circle, how do they keep taxes low in the absence of growth, especially given that denying development will drive taxation upwards.

 

NO COMPRISE DISCUSSIONS

In both recent cases, motions that would have allowed discussions to continue to see if common ground could be found were defeated. We will now never know if a move forward solution/compromise could have been reached on one or both of these applications.

 

I ask myself, does a lack of discussion best serve our town or do future councils need to find a way, even when faced with near neighbour resistance, to ensure that future applications see all options/solutions be discussed/considered ?   

 

SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS

The decision to turn down 161 Church Street sees the much needed 50 affordable units disappear.  The disappearance leaves 50 lower incoming earning families and seniors on fixed incomes to continue to struggle.  The affordable housing opportunity we had will now be move on to the City of Barrie as they were ranked 5th on the list.  In terms of the 111 Church Street, which is ranked 9th,  has no guarantee that it will be built, but if it were to be constructed it will not be up for county council consideration for several years, and if approved at that time, would not be built for 2 to 3 years after that.

 

We get caught up in definitions as social housing is often used interchangeably with affordable housing but they are two different things. All social housing is affordable, but not all affordable housing is social housing.

 

The affordable housing unit proposed for 161 Church Street would have been home to seniors on fixed incomes and hard working families that find themselves in the lower income brackets.  

 

Going back to the social housing topic, in regards to 161 Church Street there were concerns raised in some private conversations and emails that were clearly “we do not want those people ”’ in our neighbourhood related.  I ask myself how do we square that circle?  Everyone needs a place to live, in fact deserves a roof over their heads. 

.

FUTURE GROWTH

The past 8 years has been spent setting our town up for growth and prosperity.  We have invested in a new town dock, refreshed Rotary Park, built a new sewage plant, built new water tanks, launched a transit system, pushed economic development, constructed a splash pad, added more events, heralded that our town is open for business and we are currently re-constructing Main Street. The recent council decisions sends the message that we are closed for business. That messaging will cause the development community to reconsider their interest in our town.  I ask is this the message we wish to deliver?

 

WHAT IS NEXT

As a town we have no choice but for growth to occur in our urban core, however,  in the past 7 applications we have heard from many of our residents that are already living in the urban core that they do not want growth.

 

The challenge is growth is flowing northwards and we are in its path, with this in mind my final thought goes to how does the next term of council deal with growth?  

 

To me our town is at the crossroad, the next 4- year period and those elected to Council will either define our future or define our past.

 

MAIN STREET UPDATE

This week

Sanitary Sewer and Manholes have been installed north on Main Street from Sewage Treatment Lane to Beck Boulevard;

Temporary Watermain has been chlorinated and flushed. Currently undergoing bacteriological testing;

Concrete Road Base is being broken and removed as work progresses; and,

Installation of a segregated area to temporarily store any removed material that requires further testing.

Installation of an alternate entrance into the Town Dock Parking area to be used while works are completed at the Main Street and Beck Boulevard intersection.

Next week

Tying water services into the temporary watermain;

Complete sanitary sewer north to Wolfe Street and begin installation south to Tessier Drive;

Start installation of new watermain from Wolfe Street heading South;

Start water and sanitary services to property line; and,

Continue concrete road base removal.

During this time the vehicular traffic travelling on the Main Street will be detoured around the work area in accordance with the approved traffic control plan. We have received complaints that speeding on the detour routes, Peel Street and the areas around Burekvale School has become an issue. The Town will be posting a speed monitoring device in these areas and has asked for focused police monitoring in these areas.

Things to be aware of

There is an Open House at Town Hall regarding Backyard Chickens on Tuesday May 1st at 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  Survey is open here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NPPTZBZ

 

There is an Open House on Thursday May 3rd from 5:30 to 7:00  to discuss our Gateway and Angels and their future look/feel/location upon completion of the Main Street Reconstruction.

 

Sistema Huronia Music Academy Variety Show had to be rescheduled due to the weather. The show is now slated for May 12th.  Please the attachment.

 

The Hike for Hospice is coming up quickly, and is their largest annual fundraiser. I’ve attached a link to their website, a pledge sheet/brochure as well as the poster. This year they’re holding it at a new, more central to our area of coverage at the Wye Marsh.  It will offer a 2.5km accessible trail and a 5 km walk.  They’ll also be offering a bike route.  So it as a Hike, Bike, Walk or Stroll type of event.   What could be nicer than a spring walk through Wye Marsh?  Proceeds from the Hike will go towards hospice programs and services as well as towards the building costs for our residential hospice.

 

Website Link: https://www.hospicehuronia.ca/event.php?id=202

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2072653192971982

 

 

My week to be

 

Monday

Our weekly breakfast with CAO Jeff, Anita and I.

I attend a discover Waypoint Lunch.

Our Library and Museum Boards meet.

 

Tuesday

I interview with Peak FM

Our Seniors Council meets

I have a team meeting at the County Of Simcoe

And as mentioned above there is an open session on Backyard Chickens at town hall.

 

Wednesday

No formal meetings but I do get to help out at McDonalds McHappy Day.

 

Thursday

No formal meetings

 

Friday

I help out a Bruce Stanton’s feast for learning dinner is support of the Gateway Learning Centre. (see attached for info)

 

Saturday

I join in on Tim Hortons 2nd Annual Spaghetti dinner that is raising funds to send some local deserving kids to camp.

 

Enjoy your day,

 

Mayor Gerry

 

Gerry Marshall

Warden County of Simcoe,

Mayor Town of Penetanguishene,

County (705) 726-9300 Ext. 1260

Town (705)-549-7453

 

This e-mail is sent to citizens of Penetanguishene for their information on my personal thoughts, upcoming meetings and activities in Town.  The views expressed in the Mayor's Message do not necessarily represent the views of Council.    Agendas and minutes for Council and Committee meetings can be found in the Digital Library on the Town's website at www.penetanguishene.ca.  If you wish to be removed from the mailing list, please send an e-mail requesting removal to gjmarshall@bell.net  and I will be happy to do so.