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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Committee of the Whole Preview - What's on the Agenda for the May 7 Meeting?

At this month's Committee of the Whole, the Community Energy Initiative gets an update, the Parking Master Plan and Red Light Cameras will be discussed, surpluses will be allocated to various funds, and we'll try again to review the present committee structure without blowing it up.

PRESENTATION: The GLOBE Service Large Municipal Trailblazer Climate Leadership Award
IDE-2018.58 2017 Building Permit Revenue and Expenditures, Building Stabilization Reserve Fund and Annual Setting of Building Permit Fees - Under the Building Code Act, municipalities must prepare an annual report detailing all the building permit fees collected, the cost of delivering permit services, and the costs of administering and enforcing the Act. For 2017, staff is recommending an increase of 2.94 per cent to permits starting June 1, while the deficit for 2017 will come out to $35,319. That amount that will be transferred from the Building Stabilization Reserve Fund, which now sits at a little over $2.7 million, or 89 per cent of its target.
IDE-2018-38 139 Morris Street Brownfield Tax Increment Based Grant Deadline Extension - The condo development that's being built on the land of it's namesake, Biltmore, is in a kind of pickle. The project received a TIBG from the City of Guelph, and entered into an agreement with the City that said the project had to be completed by October 28, 2018, and if you've drove past there lately, it certainly looks like the 20 townhouses and 42 apartments being constructed on the site will not be ready by November. The developer has had some persistent issues with noise concerns from nearby industrial sites that have been tough to resolve, but they're now ready to proceed apparently and are asking the City for a new complete date of April 28, 2021. Staff is recommending to committee to approve the request.
IDE-2018-62 Sign By-Law Variance 1515 Gordon Street - The commercial building at this location is looking to install a freestanding illuminated sign that's about three metres taller than what's typically allowed under the sign bylaw. City staff are willing to okay the variance because of the location of the sign on the property, the fact that this is purely a commercial building, no negative impact on the streetscape, and the fact that no signs are allowed on the second story of the building.
IDE-2018.56 Community Energy Initiative Update - When the Community Energy Initiative was passed by the City of Guelph in 2007 it was one of a kind, but a number of other municipalities across North America have moved in a similar direction, and now it's time for a 10-year review of Guelph's efforts. The new target for the Royal City: to achieve absolute Net Zero by 2050. Nearly four out of five people surveyed said that they want Guelph to lead when it comes to provincial, federal, and international energy targets, so this is the new goal. The updated CEI will find ways to enact the goal as a municipality and a community, to develop strategic partnerships, and to advocate for provincial and federal action. A task force of several local stakeholders have gamed out a list of priorities for action including technical feasibility, best financial payback, and the highest impact on reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). From there, a list of 20 actions are proposed including building retrofits, stricter building codes, electrifying transit and fleet vehicles, creating ride share and car free zones, and exploring solar hot water, wind energy and renewable natural gas. To meet the Net Zero target, Guelph must take all 20 actions.
IDE-2018.69 Downtown Parking Master Plan Update - The long and winding road of parking downtown brings us back to committee this month. A lot has changed since the initial plan was passed in 2015 including the beginning of construction on the Wilson parkade (albeit a delayed start), the cancellation of the planned Neeve Street parkade, and the delayed implementation of on-street parking downtown. Even after two-and-a-half years, there's still no agreement on when on-street paid parking will be implemented again; it's one of two outstanding issues between the stakeholders in the Master Plan. Since the budget for improving parking downtown is rather dependent on making money from on-street parking, the proposed funding model's been modestly updated. Instead of a $14 daily rate, and $1.75 per hour at the meters, staff is hoping to play catch up with a $20 daily rate and $2 per hour. The other outstanding issue is periphery residential parking permits, areas just outside of downtown are feeling the pinch from lack of parking too.
IDE-2018.68 Asset Management Program Progress and Policy Update - This report has the dual purpose of updating the implementation of the Corporate Asset Management Program and Asset Management Policy, and to approve the 2018 Strategic Asset Management Policy. "Assets", of course, is a way of saying everything the City owns and is responsible for like parks, roads, pipes, vehicles, and buildings, so being able to account for those things in terms of where they are in their lifecycle is important for long-term planning. There's no immediate financial impact from this report, but it will inform future budgeting, especially at the beginning of next year when the City starts with a fully-costed 10-year capital forecast budget.
Red Light Cameras - Ward 5 Councillor Cathy Downer wants to start a discussion about using red light cameras in the City of Guelph. Allister McIlveen, Manager of Transportation Services, in an email to Councillor Downer, said that there's no immediate plan for the City to implement a red light camera program in Guelph, which would cost about $100,000 per a camera that is rotated between four different intersections, plus between $25,000 and $30,000 per year in operating costs. Guelph Police Chief Jeff DeRuyter endorses the idea, saying in a letter, "On behalf of the Guelph Police Service, I support the recommendation o explore the use of red light cameras to enhance our existing road safety efforts. Further, the Guelph Police Service will provide assistance and support to City of Guelph staff in assessing the feasibility of the introduction of red light cameras to our community."
CS-2018.47 Accountability and Transparency Policy Update - This is another one of those policy updates that isn't altering the policy too much. This one has some minor grammatical changes, some new and updated definitions of terms, and updates to provisions in order to reflect current practices.
CS-2018.39 Committee of the Whole One Year Review - You might remember last year around this time when council accidentally voted to discontinue the committee of the whole structure and go back to standing committee, but after a vote of reconsideration council decided to stay the course and wait for a one-year review. One year later, the clerk's office is going to recommend that council keep the committee of the whole structure. The most persuasive argument is timing, in 2015 the combined time spent in committee and council was nearly 90 hours, where as in 2017 it was closer to 60. Also, the new structure is credited for fewer meetings going past 11 pm, four in 2015 versus one in 2017. However, if council decides to return to standing committee, that process will not happen quickly because of the numerous arrangements that have to be made, and the fact that the clerk's office is presently managing an election. The earliest the switch could occur is sometime at the beginning of the next council term.
CS-2018.14 2017 Operating Variance Report and Surplus and Deficit Allocation - The yearly external audit has been completed and the good news is that the City of Guelph is showing a surplus in most areas save for the aforementioned Ontario Building Code with a deficit of $35,319. Court Services also showed a deficit of $51,680, but yes, the bright side is that the City of Guelph was mostly in the black in 2017. The tax-supported budget surplus is just over $3.5 million, and staff is recommending that those funds be reinvested nearly equally into the Tax Rate Operating Contingency Reserve, the City-owned Contaminated Sites Reserve Fund and the Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Fund, as well as the WSIB Reserve and Police Operating Contingency Reserve. A $745,149 surplus in Water Services will be allocated to the Water Capital Reserve Fund, the over $2.6 million Wasterwater Services surplus will be deposited into the Wastewater Capital Reserve Fund, and the over $1 million Stormwater Services surplus will be split between the Stormwater Contingency Reserve and Stormwater Capital Reserve Fund.
CS-2018.15 2017 Year-End Capital Variance - In terms of Capital spending, the City of Guelph spent about $12 million more in 2017 over 2016 to the tune of $96.4 million. The available funding for 2017, including monies carried over from 2016, was $266.3 million and with another $73.3 million in open purchase orders taken into account that means that there's still $96.6 million in the bank before the current fiscal year began. Now that's not free money, it's all still allocated to various capital projects that, for whatever reason, where delayed last year and are expected to move forward this year.
CS-2018.16 2017 Reserve and Reserve Fund Statement - For the second year, staff is giving council a breakdown of the financial health of the City’s various reserves and reserve funds, and for the most part, the financial health of these fiscal stopgaps is good. One of the outliers is the Industrial Land Reserve Fund, which is over-drawn and with a negative balance of $15.7 million after a $10 million loan came due on the Hanlon Creek Business Park; staff has previously been given direction on how to address this. In other news, the Downtown Parkland Dedication Reserve Fund is very underfunded with $613,000 in the proverbial bank, which is far below the $4.4 million target that the City is looking to have in place by 2022. The Efficiency, Innovation and Opportunity Reserve Fund took a hit because of $3 million spent on new buses and the City leveraging monies from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. The Contaminated Sites Reserve Fund is also presently $2.6 million underfunded, but this will be addressed in part by the 2017 surplus mentioned above.
More than a report on what was spent, or not spent, and why, staff are also using this occasion to report on funds that should be discontinued or new funds that should be created. This year, the recommendation is to close the Information Technology Reserve, which funds software licenses and is now handled though the capital budget process, and the Transportation Demand Management Reserve Since, which was created in 2009 because of one-time funding from a specific grant. Among the new recommended funds are a Local Boards Operating Contingency Reserve, which would cover one time expenditures for City agencies like the police or the library, who will each have their own Operating Contingency funds. Another proposed new fund is the Paramedic Services Provincial Capital Reserve Fund, which would be for lifecycle replacement for Paramedic Services.
SPECAL RESOLUTION: PS-2018-22 Guelph Transit Route 3 - Councillor June Hofland's motion to return the #3 Westmont bus to its pre-January reduced service schedule will be debated by committee with a recommendation from staff.

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