Another riveting 4 hour council meeting on Monday night. Seriously, they need to invest in better chairs for the gallery if they plan to carry on with these excruciatingly long meetings…or, I might have to start bringing a pillow with me to save my poor aching tush. (And the dress code is quickly going to become pjs!!)
At one point through the meeting, it was very clear that Councillor Kidd had (yet again) come to the meeting unprepared. It was refreshing to hear Mayor Williams (finally) address this by saying “I would just like to interject here about some of the conversations that go on with these items. We have an agenda published ahead of time that has lots of information and I would hope that all of us take the time and effort to read them and understand them and feel free to ask questions before we get to this point so that the questions we do ask are valuable and contribute greatly and I’m not mentioning you specifically Councillor Kidd. Its just an observation overall.” It will be interesting to see if this makes any difference at all towards the length of these council meetings on a go-forward basis!!
At a time in Orangeville where budget discussion should be the hottest topic around, snowmobiles and Christmas lights take the spotlight at The Town of Orangeville Council Meeting on Monday. Yup, Christmas lights…in February.
Snowmobiles & Christmas Lights
Social media has been buzzing about Councillor Wilson’s motion to prevent the Town of Orangeville from displaying Christmas Lights until after Remembrance Day. His motion came about from a report that staff provided him with that contained numerous items that he requested be looked into after residents had brought them up during the fall election. This motion brought up quite a bit of conversation including Mayor Williams stating “I have never seen Christmas lights being disrespectful to our soldiers. The intent (for this motion) is good, you don’t want to show any disrespect.” and then he went on to say “We live in a free society that’s paid for by the blood of our soldiers and we should be able to put up lights whenever we want”.
For those interested, next November 11th will be Christmas-Light-Free with the motion passing with a recorded vote (Councillors Wilson, Campbell, Kidd & Deputy Mayor Maycock all voted in favour while Councillor Garisto and Mayor Williams voted against)
Hot topic number two that brought up some major discussion. The main reason for this motion was to amend the snowmobile bylaw to be less restrictive to snowmobilers and to “promote tourism”. The motion was passed almost unanimously, with the only person voting against it being Mayor Williams. As conversation ensued, it seemed as though he wanted to add more amendments to the bylaw to be even less restrictive, but he was the only one who seemed to feel this way.
Arts & Culture and Youth Programs
There were 2 Orangeville residents that stood up and spoke at council on Monday – I have to say WOW! If only our elected officials shared the same passion towards Arts & Culture and Youth Programs….
First up, Lucinda Silva (President of Orangeville Music Theatre – OMT) got up and spoke with passion about the user fees that are being charged by Theatre Orangeville to outside community groups. OMT is a non-profit community theatre group that has been a part of Orangeville since 1979. They now do 5 shows every year and are the largest user of the Opera House other than Theatre Orangeville. Back in 2010, OMT was charged $3500 to use the theatre space for a 3 week time frame and most recently in June of 2014, they were charged $7000 for the same period of time. User fees being doubled in just 4 years?? RIDICULOUS! Also, now in order to use the theatre, OMT has no choice but to use Theatre Orangeville’s box office…at a charge of $3 per ticket sold.
To All Members of Council….I hope you take this request to lower user fees VERY seriously and take action to do something about it. As a parent of an OMT kid, I have to speak out and advocate for the benefits of this amazing group. The volunteers for OMT work tirelessly to put on OUTSTANDING shows for the community. They teach our children self-confidence, to be fearless and give them the opportunity to put their talents to great use entertaining the community. The increase in user fees makes it more and more difficult for these shows to happen. No member of council has stepped up yet to show interest in Arts & Culture…Well, your time is NOW!
My daughter as “Baby Shrek” in her first OMT production. (pardon the photo quality…it’s a cellphone shot ) – Picture is lost to time
~ Rant Over ~
The second Orangeville resident to get up to speak was Mr. Bernard Uzoagba. In my humble opinion, the idea he brought forward was extremely innovative and could put Orangeville on the map as a community focused on the development of our youth. His idea in a nutshell is to work with underprivileged youth in the community to help them gain work experience to add to their resumes as a stepping-stone for their future job endeavours. His project titled ‘Community Crew’ would partner youth up with The Town of Orangeville doing odd jobs such as garbage pick-up, repairing signs, sweeping floors and other jobs. Mr. Uzoagba was quoted saying “this gives them a stepping stone for life by giving them some real work experience Out town could become a place where young people come and we refine them and give them a stepping stone. It will make young people passionate about our town.” And he couldn’t be more right! What a great idea for an outreach program!
Again, to All Members of Council…don’t drop the ball on this one! The information has been deferred to staff to be in contact with the program coordinate to see if HR can make this happen. FIND A WAY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN!! It is so great to hear citizens with the best interests of our youth in mind. How great would it be to see Orangeville show up as a leader in programs geared towards growing the talents of our youth?
Bring on the budget talks
Well, the agenda stated that a budget meeting would follow the regular council meeting. In my mind, I thought that these very important budget talks would take priority and then there would be a true effort shown to reduce the length of the council meeting. However, this was not the case. The council meeting (including the closed portion of the meeting) took over 3 hours, which left a very generous 20 minutes for budget. Hmmm.
The Town’s treasurer, Mr Parrott, had prepared a fantastic presentation to explain how to get to zero and the complexity behind that magic number. I, for one was very interested in how he explained the assessment process. I am hoping that the next budget meeting on February 23rd will continue his presentation….in my humble opinion, it’s valuable information for members of council as well as the citizens of Orangeville to fully understand how the tax process works in correlation to the budget!