The final Council meeting of 2022. The main highlight was a presentation by the County about the use of 20 Rose Street as an interim Temporary Shelter Facility.
It was a quick meeting, tucked in before City Council. Of note for members is that the direction to staff to investigate the feasibility of a Lobbyist Register was carried unanimously – you will remember this was proposed by Councillor Aylwin in 2019, but did not receive support at that time. We are encouraged to see it approved now, although question the Mayor's accompanying memo that places responsibility to register on those approaching Councillors, and not the Councillors themselves disclosing any lobbying activities.
The new Committee structure was approved, which sees the dissolving of the Planning Committee – Public Meetings will now be held at the Affordability Committee, and Development Applications will be considered by General Committee. A full list of the Committees and Task Forces for this term can be found at https://www.barrie.ca/government-news/council-committees/committees-task-forces
Engage's Summary: https://www.engagebarrie.org/post/city-council-wednesday-december-14-7pm
An Emergency Deputation began the official proceedings – and while the deputant wasn't able to sway Council on the Zoning Bylaw Amendment Application for 129 Collier Street, it appears that the concerns she had were received by Council and will be considered as part of the downtown parking strategy moving forward. Kudos to all members of the public who speak to Council, your engagement is an important part of local democracy!
There was one small amendment on the "Implementation of Bill 109, More Homes for Everyone Act" item – adding that staff in Development Services should report to the Affordability Committee when the regulations associated with Bills 23 & 109 are passed, to make sure the City's process matches (and adjust if needed).
We were disappointed that there was no further discussion on the Pending List Update – while the list had been provided to the public, there were still a number of resident concerns about what was being deleted. It would have been a good opportunity for this new Council to clear up concerns, and show accountability and transparency over this issue.
We were happy to see the direction to staff to investigate the feasibility of a Lobbyist Registry – although disappointed with the accompanying memo from the Mayor (tucked in last-minute to the legistar), proposing the onus would be on those lobbyists approaching Councillors, and not the Councillors themselves who would be responsible for reporting any lobbying activities. Again, this could have been an opportunity to demonstrate accountability and transparency to the public, but fell flat.
The majority of the meeting time was spent by a presentation by the County of Simcoe about the use of 20 Rose Street as an interim Temporary Shelter Facility, and other items related to Homelessness Prevention Services. Unfortunately, the Council questions to the presenters were restricted to 20 Rose Street only. Also unfortunate was some of the posturing by certain Councillors against the work the County is doing. While it's certainly fair to challenge and ask for more, the "angle" of some of the questions was more about finger-pointing, casting doubt, and finding excuses to not act, than trying to work together to help all residents of our City. The presentation itself (as well as the answers to the questions afterwards) was very informative, and definitely worth a watch: https://www.youtube.com/live/gfjVdLEUoo0?feature=share&t=3029