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Housing and homelessness on Orillia council agenda Monday

Council will also discuss recommendation to scrap current plans for new Dr. Seymour Conservatory greenhouse at Couchiching Beach Park
2020-12-01 Seymour Conservatory
The existing Dr. Seymour Conservatory, left, and a rendering of what a new facility might look like. However, that vision is now up in the air as staff are asking city council to cancel its plans to replace the aging structure.

Affordable housing, homeless encampments, the conservatory greenhouse, and more are on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

Weston Consulting and Sionito Group of Charities will give a deputation on a potential affordable housing development at 26 West St. N.

City staff have recommended cancelling plans to issue a tender for a request for a proposal for a new Dr. Seymour Conservatory greenhouse to replace the aging structure at Couchiching Beach Park.

Between 2016 and 2021, $1.25 million was approved for the project. When the tender closed in November 2022, bids for the project were considerably over the city’s budget, coming in between $4.3 million and $8.2 million.

City staff report numerous factors have contributed to inflated costs for the project, including the building’s custom design, the COVID-19 pandemic, servicing requirements, and time lapsed since the original design.

Staff recommend the city return $1.12 million to the general asset management reserve and allocate $100,000 to fund a redesign of the project.

Council will consider a request for $75,000 in additional funding for the Fittons Road West sewage-pumping station design budget, which will see an increase from $250,000 to $325,000 if approved.

The station was built in 1975, currently sits in a growth area of the city, and its pumps and generator are approaching end of life.

In addition, access to the equipment requires a five-person confined space entry, which requires specialized training.

This increase in funds will help the city complete a municipal class environmental assessment as well as design activities for the project.

All three proposals to assess the upgrades were above the available budget for the project.

Also on the agenda is a letter from the Common Element Condominium (CEC) and Horizontally Built Standard Condominium Committee (HBSC) expressing frustration at a lack of full municipal services for CEC and HBSC homes in the city, and requesting city assistance in securing meetings with the minister of municipal affairs and housing as well as the minister of finance.

Council will also consider a grants committee request to provide $15,000 in funding for six cultural events, at $2,500 each — Gathering: Festival of First Nation Stories, Orillia Jazz Festival, Orillia Scottish Festival, Roots North Music Festival, Shivers and Sizzles, and the Orillia Perch Festival.

Finally, council will consider two inquiry motions, from councillors Tim Lauer and Jay Fallis respectively.

Lauer’s inquiry will seek his colleagues' support to ask city staff to draft a report outlining potential enforcement strategies “to deal with homeless encampment sites in the City of Orillia.”

Fallis’s motion aims to request staff to draft a report with respect to the options, costs, and logistics of bringing garbage receptacles to the city’s 15 busiest transit stops, for consideration in next year’s budget deliberations.

Both inquiries are subject to council approval.

Monday’s council meeting begins at 2 p.m.

Current city council agendas can be found here.


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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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