#StCath City Council for November 30th – What’s on tap?

Easy to get out of the habit of doing these, but here goes with a rundown of what’s coming up next Monday night at 6:30 in Council chambers:

During the Regular agenda (located here):

  • We’ve got presentations on three topics, related to an award for the AODA 10th anniversary Champion Awards, an update and overview of Brock University and its future goals, as well as an overview of the proposed changes to the Lake Street Service Centre;
  • There are delegations related to affordable housing from Niagara Regional Housing and two public meetings regarding stopping up and closing unnamed streets and road allowances;
  • There’s a motion coming from the Mayor asking staff to report on the implications of eliminating property tax charges for Niagara Regional Housing properties;

During the General agenda (located here):

  • Reports related to the above public meetings;
  • The filling of two vacancies left by Councillor Elliott’s resignation from both the Economic Sustainability Pillar Committee and the Cultural Funding Task Force;
  • A supplemental report related to the creation of the Fire Master Plan committee;
  • A supplemental report related to the proposed consolidation of the Lake Street Service Centre;
  • Citizen appointments to the Museum and Arts and Culture Advisory Committees;
  • The Corporation’s Quarterly Investment report;
  • St. Catharines Transit’s plan for spending provincial gas tax money;
  • A report regarding the possibility of generating electricity from the kinetic energy in the city’s watermains;
  • The staff report related to Uber and car-sharing services in Niagara;
  • A report relating to future municipal consultation when placing cell towers;
  • And a report on the RFP process for the FOPAC Donor wall.

A number of interesting topics to be discussed, and I’m expecting a very busy and long night. If you have any questions, comments or concerns on any of the above topics, please drop me a line at msiscoe@stcatharines.ca.

Two #STCBudget meetings this week; what are your thoughts, #StCath?

Just a quick note to remind folks of the upcoming budget meetings coming up today, November 23rd in Council chamber at 4:30, and Wednesday November 25th at 3:30pm in the same place. There are a number of important topics being discussed in both of these meetings.

On the 23rd, the agenda includes:

  • Discussions with the Commissioner of Operations regarding the proposed Winter Control reserve budget, sidewalk snow removal for seniors and enhanced removal in the downtown and reports that have come to Council regarding Asset Management;
  • Proposed changes to the Budget night process itself – the proposal is to change to a two night process, where the budget would be presented and any amendments to the budget dealt with on night one, along with public comment on the budget, and the second night given over to debate of amendments and the budget itself, allowing staff time to explain the implications of any proposed amendments;
  • And timeline information related to the work plan of the Standing Budget Committee.

On the 25th, we’re looking at the following:

  • Changes made stemming from the November 3rd meeting on the Schedule of Rates and Fees;
  • And other issues held over from the 3rd.

If residents have questions, comments or concerns related to the budget, feel free to tweet them with #STCbudget, or email the committee at budget@stcatharines.ca. If you have any comments directed at me, I can be reached at msiscoe@stcatharines.ca.

What’s on tap at #StCath Council for Monday, January 26th.

This Monday at Council is shaping up to be a busy night at St. Catharines Council – lots of issues on tap, and sure to generate a lot of conversation.

First and foremost, we need to make a decision on the Regional Council vacancy. While I’m not particularly happy about having the pilot project nixed by the province, I understand the reasoning, and I’m buoyed by the comments relating to 2018 and look forward to moving this issue forward, sooner rather than alter. With that said, the prudent thing in this situation will be to appoint Kelly Edgar, the 7th place finisher. I am also hopeful that Council can finally decide to adopt a policy on this issue: contrary to what some have said, we don’t have a policy regarding Regional Council, and it’s about time we got one.

Elsewhere on the agenda, some of the big item – first of all, the draft City expenditures report which will get the Budget Committee off to a start on the process of shaping this year’s City budget. I have a fuller post on the budget committee here (EDIT: It’s coming, I swear, just want to finish it up in the next few hours) (further edit, here it is), but the tl;dr version is this: staff have presented a draft budget with a 6.48% budget increase, and I don’t think that’s acceptable. The report will be tabled on Monday night, and the committee will be able to get down to creating the final version to be presented in March.

A few other notable reports coming forward – the contract for the fundraisers for the Performing Arts Centre will be looked at for possible renewal (report here); the rain and flooding issues afflicting southwest St. Catharines are addressed here; the CAO’s office is bringing a report that report provides an overview of the previous year’s administrative changes and a context for the administration’s agenda going forward (here): the Design and Implementation plan for the Lower Level Valley (where the Meridian Centre, the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the PAC will live) comes to Council for endorsement (here); and a report regarding Open Data and the City’s plans on this topic will also be presented (here)  – I will be asking for a deferral on this final report for two weeks so that a community group is able to present.

Also on Monday night:

  • The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Fee for Service agreement
  • The St. Catharines Downtown Association slate of nominees is presented
  • Several parking concerns are addresses, on Jasmin Cres. and on Yates St.
  • A request for a school crossing guard on Vine St.
  • A report regarding donations and issuance of tax receipts
  • The receipt of a variety of Council correspondence items

The full agenda can be found here. As always, if you have any comments you’d like to share regarding these or other items on interest, please email me at msiscoe@stcatharines.ca

#StCath Council agenda for January 12th, 2015

Busy night on tap for City Council this upcoming Monday, as we debate a number of important issues and hear from several community leaders regarding issues in the city.

In terms of speakers, we will be hearing from Gary Murphy from the Niagara District Airport about the strategic plan and Capital budget; we’ll hear form Kimberly Hundertmark on the annual report from the Niagara Wine Festival; and we’ll hear form George Darte regarding the Regional Council vacancy.

Reports to be considered include a renewal of the fee for service agreement with the Niagara Wine Festival (here); the discussion and decision on the empty seat at Regional Council (here); and a report from St. Catharines Transit on the purchases they are making with this year’s Gas tax funding (here).

For those curious about the gas tax funding, the break down of the approximately $3.8 million is as follows:

  1. Purchase four (4) new accessible 40 foot buses (standard diesel) at an estimated cost of $1,800,000 inclusive of taxes; and
  2. Purchase one (1) new accessible 60 foot long articulated bus (standard diesel) at an estimated cost of $705,000 inclusive of taxes; and
  3. Purchase new diesel fuel tank(s) for the maintenance facility to replace the existing fuel tank at an estimated cost of $500,000 inclusive of taxes; and
  4. Purchase replacement components for the Commission’s hybrid buses at an estimated cost of $250,000; and
  5. Utilize remaining funds (approximately $440,000) for the purchase of technology upgrades needed to support or expand accounting, operations and customer service systems.

In addition to the Discussion agenda, items on the consent agenda are as follow:

  • a Brownfield Tax Increment grant being transferred on 77 Avery Cres;
  • a facade improvement grant for 18 and 22 King St;
  • a report regarding the impact of Seaway construction on the Welland Canal Parkway;
  • the monthly investment report, cheque register and council correspondence.

The full agenda can be found here and here.