Orillia’s Citizen of the Year, homeless encampments, international students, and several other issues are on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Don McIsaac will present the 2023 Citizen of the Year award, as selected by a panel of former winners, as well as OrilliaMatters community editor Dave Dawson, Pure Country 106 host Casey Moran, and Orillia District Chamber of Commerce president Nathan Housser, from a submitted group of nominees.
City politicians are set to meet at 2 p.m. in the council chamber at the Orillia City Centre.
Lighthouse officials will provide an update on the emergency and youth shelters, supportive housing and outreach programs, community meal program, and the warming centre.
From May to December last year, The Lighthouse’s outreach team connected with more than 500 community members, and nearly 120 people have used the warming centre so far this winter.
Officials say 324 people accessed the emergency shelter in 2023, and The Lighthouse served close to 85,000 meals throughout the year.
Representatives will also present two requests for city council’s consideration: that council support, in principle, building more supportive or affordable housing on The Lighthouse property, as well as building a youth supportive housing complex.
Council will consider striking a partnership between the city and the County of Simcoe to bring a Supportive Rapid Re-Housing Program to Orillia, as the city — along with many other municipalities — struggles with low affordable housing supply and shelters operating at capacity.
City staff suggest bringing a temporary housing facility to either Morningstar Park, Murray Street Park or the vacant parcel at Frontier Park, which would bring modular housing units to the city for a project similar to the 20 Rose St. facility in Barrie.
With the goal of transitioning people to permanent housing, the temporary structure would include sleeping rooms, shared washroom facilities with showers, a shared kitchen and laundry, and the potential for 24-hour staffing, with the possibility of supporting 20 to 40 individuals in its first year.
Staff recommend committing $100,000 in associated fees, development charges, service connections, and lot grading requirements, with the county footing the bill for the capital costs and managing a financial agreement with a service provider for its operating costs.
Transit to Orillia Square mall
City staff have recommended striking a 10-year agreement with the Township of Severn to continue providing transit service to the Orillia Square mall at no cost to the township.
With service to the mall dating back to 2000, the Orillia Square mall previously paid an annual fee to the city for the service, which ceased in 2017 after the mall stated it could no longer pay.
Severn contributed $15,000 per year through 2019 and 2020 but declined further financial support in 2021.
Attempts to secure financial contributions since have also been denied.
City staff estimate 11,000 people per year use the North transit route.
After getting postponed during a December council meeting, city politicians will vote on a proposed new structure for city committees — which could see several committees dissolved — and four-year terms to coincide with city council terms.
Due to difficulty getting residents involved, a lack of pertinent issues in a number of years, and other reasons, staff previously recommended dissolving the economic development committee, farmers’ market advisory committee, town and gown committee, and the Orillia Sunshine Youth Senate.
Regarding membership, Orillia has historically appointed committee members for three-year terms, and the new structure proposes four-year terms that expire with the term of council.
The city’s mandatory advisory committees, including the accessibility advisory committee, municipal heritage committee, and waste management advisory committee, will continue to operate.
Workplace electric vehicle charging
City staff will present a policy on workplace electric vehicle charging stations for council’s consideration, as the city looks to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of staff and its corporate fleet, which currently account for 25 per cent of the city’s corporate emissions.
Staff have recommended the two charging stations at Fire Station 1 and the two at the Municipal Operations Centre be made available for staff use as well as the city’s corporate fleet, which will likely be recommended for electrification under the city’s climate change action plan.
The policy is meant to support the use of electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the city, with regard to its council-endorsed target to reduce corporate emissions to net zero below 2018 levels by 2040.
International students at Georgian College
City council will consider supporting Georgian College’s call to government officials to lift the current moratorium on study permit processing for international students at colleges and universities, following the federal government’s recent decision to cap the number of international students that can study in Canada for 2024.
A moratorium on student visa application processing is in place until March 31 — the deadline for provinces to create a system for managing attestation letters — and the federal government has placed a cap on the number of international student permits at 35 per cent below 2023 levels for 2024.
In a letter to council, college administration laid out the potential negative consequences of the moratorium and the cap, noting international students account for roughly 50 per cent of the college’s student population.
The moratorium has the potential to affect enrolment through the upcoming spring and fall semesters, college officials say, noting the overall cap could also see Ontario’s number of international students capped at 50 per cent below current levels, as overall numbers are weighted by provincial population.
In total, Georgian College could stand to lose up to $50 million through the new policy, officials say.
Orillia Rowing Club
Following a presentation by the Orillia Rowing Club at the previous meeting of council, Coun. Jay Fallis will introduce a reconsideration motion for a previous agreement struck between the club and city for a new boathouse in Kitchener Park.
Council previously agreed to lease space in Kitchener Park for new club facilities, under the condition the boathouse come at no cost to the city, but club officials have since expressed concern the various fees, studies and permits associated with its construction would render the project unfeasible, at least for 2024.
On Monday, Fallis will look for council’s support to reconsider its previous decision and amend the agreement to provide a grant to the club.
Fallis and Coun. Jeff Czetwerzuk will seek council’s support for a staff report analyzing potential long-term solutions for traffic calming, pedestrian use, and speed compliance along University Avenue, between Stone Ridge Boulevard and Vanessa Drive.
The two councillors will also seek an analysis on the effectiveness of digital feedback signs, to be considered along either side of University Avenue during the 2025 budget deliberations.