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Council Follow-up, week of February 14, 2022

Updated: Jan 6

A rather quiet week, but some big accomplishments – approval of the Market Precinct Task Force recommendations, and approval of the New Official Plan (this stage – now it goes to the province for approval). Still some concerns arising out of the City Council meeting.

City Council

The meeting began with recognition of the recipients of the 2021 Heritage Barrie Awards. This was followed by Special Recognition of Shelter workers, specifically those from the David Busby Centre, Salvation Army Bayside Mission, Gilbert Centre, Youth Haven, Elizabeth Fry Society and John Howard Society.

Two deputations – the first from Jennifer van Gennip on behalf of SCATEH Barrie, regarding the new Official Plan, and an emergency deputation from Cathy Colebatch on the same item. Councillor Morales declared a potential pecuniary interest for both deputations, and left the meeting for the duration.

Also of note: The new Stormwater Climate Action Fund and policies were approved, along with two new full-time positions to support the program. The new Transit Service Guidelines were approved, as were the guidelines for the new Recreation and Sport Community Grant Program, and the Town Crier's appointment was extended to the end of this year.

The recommendations of the Market Precinct Task Force were endorsed in principle – converting the existing transit terminal on Maple to a year-round market, plus constructing a new building to house the Farmers Market. A contractor or consultant will be hired to prepare and coordinate the plans for the project. An amendment by Deputy Mayor Ward was also unanimously approved, which states the goal of opening to the public in 2024, and directs staff to work with the Farmers Market to create "pop-up market days" at various locations around the city in the meantime.

The new Official Plan took up most of the meeting's time, and raised a couple of flags for us. The item had been divided into Sections A & B, in order to allow Councillor Morales to vote for Section B, but in the end, he did not vote in the final votes for either section, as he had to declare a real and direct pecuniary interest for most of the votes taking place (he did vote on 2 of the amendments in Section B, but abstained from the final vote). This was not the concern – he was correct to declare the conflicts and remove himself from the voting. However, despite declaring these conflicts, Councillor Morales kept returning to the meeting during the discussions, going against the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, Section 5 (1) (b) and Section 5 (1) (c).

Section A (Official Plan – Affordable Housing: increasing target from 10% to 15%) was approved unanimously by all voting (Councillor Morales having declared a conflict for this section). However, Councillor McCann insisted on speaking to the amendment after the vote had already taken place – we are not certain why Mayor Lehman allowed him this platform, as it does not follow Council procedure. Many of the statements Councillor McCann made during this time could be argued to breach much of the City's Code of Conduct – including, but not limited to: trying to blame the City's housing crisis on new immigrants to Canada (5.12 (e), 20.1 through 20.5), stating that this change in target was a tax against developers (5.1, 5.3, 5.12 (e) and (f) ), and in several cases, seeming to not understand either the motion or which level of government has jurisdiction in certain issues (5.5, 5.8 (e) ).

One piece of information that did come from this tangent was that there are currently around 19,000 units that have received approval but not yet been built – Ms. Banfield indicated that there were several reasons for that, including sites that had only recently been approved. Nevertheless, it is a concern, and knowing the reasons why some of the units approved earlier have not yet materialized.

Section B (the remaining Official Plan) had a few amendments brought in. The first amendment tried to remove new developments fronting on collector or arterial streets from having the same density targets as those fronting onto Intensification Corridors, but that was defeated. Some shifting of the Phase naming in the Secondary Plan was approved. New developments will be kept to three storeys if fronting local or arterial roads, and as a "trade-off", new development on the designated greenfield areas may be permitted up to twelve storeys. Also, the zoning will be Commercial District on both sides of Bryne Drive. A motion put forward to reduce the cross-section right-of-way protection on Bradford Street was referred to Planning Committee.

And finally, a Motion Without Notice, as the direction from the Downtown Barrie BIA seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. But Victoria Butler has now OFFICIALLY been appointed to the BIA Board of Directors. Congratulations, Ms. Butler! Between the Queen of Dunlop Street and the Heart of Barrie, we're excited to see what downtown has in store for us all!

Arts Advisory Committee


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