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Council Follow-up, week of June 20, 2022

Updated: Jan 6

The Annual Report of our Integrity Commissioner. Surprising lack of public concern for re-zoning from "Environmental Protection" to "Industrial" in Ward 5. And a cynical ignoring of an important community program in need of assistance.





City Council



The highlight of this meeting was, of course, the 2021 Annual Report from the Integrity Commissioner. The written copy is at https://barrie.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10997803&GUID=D1D070C9-883F-4A55-9A29-3E3FB683D55C, but her spoken report is definitely well worth a watch as well: https://youtu.be/IlmcYa3WbSo?t=1041


Ms. Craig received 9 formal and 9 informal complaints in 2021, and 7 formal and 1 informal to the end of May, 2022 (as we are in an election year, and complaints are suspended until the end of the election period, she included a summary of these in her report). She wanted to clarify that her role is restricted by legislation, and she understands how that can be frustrating for the public (and herself) when she is unable to investigate, due to these restrictions. The Code of Conduct is important, but not the only governance structure. She does not have the authority to investigate in many cases.


Ms. Craig indicated there had been concerns about a member of Council's influence over planning matters. Again, the only way she can investigate is if there is a Code matter.


There was much reference to the Workplace Harassment Case, and the activities at the provincial level to better ensure a safe workplace. The province has not amended the powers of the Integrity Commissioner to impose any increased consequences for breaking the Code.


She acknowledged that unethical behaviours that fell outside her jurisdiction were perplexing, and she was equally frustrated with her lack of ability to investigate. She suggested municipalities reinforce their policies in order to allow her to address some of them more, and to ask the province to make new policies as well.


Both Council in their questions and Ms. Craig in her answers did a very good job of tip-toeing around Barrie's own Workplace Harassment case, while making it clear that they all wanted to reinforce the policies and legislation which allowed the previous debacle, as well as increase the authority of the Integrity Commissioner to impose penalties more in keeping with how bad the violation of conduct has been.



Planning Committee



Public meetings for developments in Wards 9 & 5 – neither of which received much attention from the public, which is surprising, since the latter sought to change land use from "Environmental Protection Area" to "General Industrial".



Finance and Corporate Services Committee



This meeting began with an open delegation regarding the Urban Pantry Program, which is at risk of being terminated, with the expiration of a Trillium grant. The Urban Pantry was asking for one-time emergency funding ($215,456) to bridge the gap in funding and allow the program to create a more sustainable model of delivery and full integration into the CMHA's operations.


This did not appear in the Agenda, nor was it published on barrie.legistar.com ahead of time, so no members of the public were aware of the delegation, nor could they support it. Rather cynically, there was not proper time allotted, questions were cut short, and there was no chance to consider the request – if the committee already knew they weren't going to consider, they should have been up front about it, instead of creating these roadblocks. This is an important program, that has helped many in our community through the pandemic – that the committee would not even consider or debate their request is disappointing and frustrating. Many Barrie residents are going to be suffering with the loss of this program next month.


On the positive side, the support for fully accessible washrooms was approved, and will be sent to next week's General Committee for consideration.



Arts Advisory Committee



The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Performing Arts Centre has been released!



Town and Gown Committee



CANCELLED due to no quorum



Heritage Barrie Committee



Three recommendations came out of this meeting. The first to direct staff in Development Services to investigate the feasibility and cost of conducting a study under the Ontario Heritage Act to establish a Heritage Conservation District at Blake Street & Dundonald Street. Second, that a Heritage Planner position be considered as part of the 2023 Budget. And finally, adding 62 High Street to the Municipal Heritage Register.

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