OCTOBER 2015 COUNCIL UPDATE
At the Oct 26 Midland Council meeting, they first dealt with an application for the outdoor farmers market to move indoors to the Huronia Museum. Council was clearly in a mood to approve the move; however, no motion had been prepared, so they deferred the vote to the special Council meeting that had already been scheduled for the following evening (when it was approved). While we agree that a farmer’s market is a nice chance to support local small producers, we believe the recurring (over and over and over) topic of farmers markets occupies far too much of our Council’s time. Surely this is something that can be moved to a committee or staff function.
The Lawn Bowling Club was granted a 1 year extension on its lease while it seeks Trillium Fund grant money.
A group of residents in the Bayport Blvd area submitted a petition & letter of complaint regarding the noise & unsightliness of boats being stored on shore at the marina. Councillor McDonald, supported by Councillor Strathearn, pointed out that the marina has been operating there for some time – long before the arrival of the Kaitlin development. Since there are no Town regulations being contravened this is a matter between Kaitlin and Bay Port Marina, not a Town matter. Mayor McKay indicated that he was trying to moderate discussions to keep the peace and that some accommodations had already been reached between the parties.
Next was a recommendation from the Engineering Dept to grant a request from the developer for a one-month extension to complete the clean-up of the Tiffin Lake retention pond and vicinity. Mike Ross then made the unusual move to amend the request to a six-month extension, supported by File, Contin & Main. Strathearn requested a recorded vote which was a tie however the motion was amended to extend to next Council meeting on Nov. 23.
Next was the appearance of legal counsel regarding Midland’s approach to secondary suites. Council was advised that they CANNOT restrict secondary units under the planning act, nor can they differentiate between “new” & “existing” construction. It was also told that it was inadvisable to try & control such development by way of density limits because that was also likely to run afoul of provincial regulation.
Council offered an opportunity for public input on the matter of fees at Midland recreational facilities, specifically parks, NSSRC, and Midland Harbour. There was only one speaker, Kevin Cowie, who argued against the current fee schedule for NSSRC and Midland Harbour. The fee schedule at NSSRC should be redesigned to achieve as close as possible to full cost recovery by conducting a proper market analysis, and he suggested a common analysis tool that would help. At the very least, any subsidy provided by the Town of Midland, currently in the neighbourhood of $1 million per year, should be directed at Midland residents only. Residents of other townships have chosen to live outside Midland and in most cases pay lower municipal tax rates, but they are enjoying the full benefits of a high tax community on the backs of Midland ratepayers.
Mr. Cowie also suggested that the focus for the Midland Town Dock should be primarily to attract tourists and transient boaters to Midland’s shopping, dining, entertainment, and other services and to generate more revenue for Midland’s coffers along the way. A vibrant recreational port is part of every successful waterfront community, but without the ability to attract and accommodate tourists that arrive by water, the waterfront will remain stagnant and uninteresting. Somehow, the Harbour believes it has vacancies for transients but numerous boaters know with certainty that overnight slips are not available. This disconnect deserves more investigation.
Meanwhile, Midland is leaving money on the table. Our research shows that Midland Harbour rates are in the order of 40-60% lower than commercial marinas in the area, even when comparing equivalent services (i.e. summer docks only, no winter storage or haul out). We reject the premise that the Town must offer discounted dockage to those who can’t afford it because: (a) there is no reason to assume that needy families are the ones getting this benefit; and (b) we believe needy families have more pressing priorities than low-cost dockage for their recreational boats.
Midlandcommunity.ca believes that a new mentality must be applied to the management of Town-owned recreational resources. Certainly, green areas are freely accessible to residents and visitors alike in any modern town or city, so we are not proposing admission kiosks in Midland’s abundance of parks. Expensive, staffed, maintained, and operated facilities are a different story. These capital assets must be marketed effectively and operated efficiently to ensure a return on Midland’s investment and fair treatment of Midland’s ratepayers. Perhaps, just perhaps, this mentality would then begin to infect other Town departments and we would start to enjoy higher service levels at lower cost across the board.
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