The good news: all City meetings this week were of the "short but sweet" variety, and the Council Compensation recommendations were approved – some of the tools to assist increasing diversity on Council. The bad news: two cases of Improper Use of Influence by Councillors, and Improper Use of City Resources for Personal Gain.
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/MLVbM6Cwp2Y
The final report of the Council Compensation Review Committee was approved, although with some concerns, which will hopefully have some clarity by City Council time. Council asked staff to get rationale for the OMERS pension for Councillors being opt-in / opt-out as a group (i.e., all Councillors have to opt in, or nobody is covered). The base salary for Mayor will be phased in, from the current $122,580 to $142,008 by 2026. Councillors' base salary will increase to $40,983, with additional compensation to the Deputy Mayor. Councillors will now have the option of being enrolled in the group extended health and dental benefits plan, as well. While some may balk at giving Council a raise, it should be noted that these increases won't kick in until the NEXT Council is sworn in (so voting for this motion in no way benefitted current sitting Councillors). Kudos, as well, to those Councillors pointing out that higher salaries and benefits can help increase diversity on Council, by allowing people to hold office who are not necessarily independently wealthy or self-employed.
All motions arising from the City Building Committee report were approved – including the Wastewater Asset Management Plan, and an updated mandate for the Barrie Arts Advisory Committee.
A referral motion (which quashes debate) was put forward by McCann, sending the Staff Report on Pickleball Courts back, to now report on a new location (which, according to an article posted the next day, had already been investigated and rejected).
McCann also tried to amend staff's recommendation for parking restrictions on Pepin Court, to include removing the sidewalk along one section – which is not only fiscally and environmentally irresponsible, but also goes against the City's own Active Transportation Strategy. Fortunately, all of Council – other than McCann & Harvey – understood this, and the amendment was voted down.
Also of note, the City got a "perfect score" on the 2021 Drinking Water System Reports, so we can all enjoy a glass from the tap in celebration! The Patio Program and Open Air Dunlop will be renewed this summer, as well as the Business In the Parks program. And the City's Legal Department will look into joining South Glengarry in asking the Attorney General of Ontario to work with municipal governments re: joint and several liability.
We have two concerns arising from the "Announcements" portion of the meeting, both potential Improper Use of Influence complaints under the City's Code of Conduct. The first was N.Harris reading a letter from a friend of hers talking about Rare Disease Day – which likely wouldn't have been an issue on its own, however the letter DID include a solicitation for fundraising for the friend's daughter's hospital visits and assistive devices, which should have been edited out of a Council meeting (and broadcast). The second was McCann's announcement that he had "teamed up" with the City's Town Crier for a tour to finish at a specific downtown bar (commonly known to be owned by a friend of his), so that people could eat and drink there after the tour (the tour in question, as McCann acknowledged, usually ends at the Barrie Jail). During this announcement, McCann also acknowledged that he had recruited the Town Crier to promote his own ice sculpture "that I paid for". This would not just be an Improper Use of Influence, but also an Improper Use of City Resources (as the Town Crier is paid for by the City) for personal gain.
Finance and Corporate Services
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/Hhicvm5OBU4
The City's Waterfront Parking Permits are going digital! (And it also sounds as if the City is working hard at improving signage re: where the resident passes are valid.) Kudos to City Staff for incorporating an alternative for people who can't or don't wish to upload their personal information into the HotSpot app – assisting with accessibility and privacy issues for Barrie residents.
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/G0_gbBgCQ7Q
Active Transportation and Sustainability
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/p-1NrXDNtEs
Watch Again: https://youtu.be/2iJbyNRg3-s