Budget 2020: Clearview puts money aside for affordable housing
Sunnidale Corners Community Centre was hoping to move ahead with a renovation to improve accessibility but council denied funding, opting to wait until an updated accessibility report for all halls is received in March. (RJ Burnside and Associates rendering)
An addition was made to the Clearview budget during council’s third and final workshop Monday, bringing the tax increase up to 4.09 per cent.
Staff is estimating that increase would be reduced to 2.44 per cent once taxes collected on behalf of the county and the school board are factored in.
First up, Deputy Mayor Barry Burton proposed the municipality start saving money for affordable housing for seniors.
At Councillor Robert Walker’s suggestion, council agreed to set aside $150,000 in 2020, $250,000 in 2021 and $350,000 in 2022, to bring the dedicated reserve fund up to $750,000 in three years, even though Burton was hoping to get to the $1 million mark.
Burton said Clearview was given a target by the County of Simcoe of creating 79 new affordable housing units between 2014 and 2024 and it has not created any. He hopes the money will put Clearview in a position to partner with the county and developers in a few years to create affordable housing, specifically for seniors.
County statistics show there are 3,907 households on the county central wait list, of which 26 per cent (1,016) are seniors, and there are 357 households on the Central waiting list for Stayner alone, of which 50 per cent (178) are seniors. In Clearview, there is only one building in Stayner with 15 one-bedroom units for seniors.
“You can do the math,” said Burton. “We are going to have a lot of seniors leaving our community.”
In other municipalities, the county has contributed millions of dollars towards affordable housing: $12.7 million was invested to create 99 units in Wasaga Beach; $6.2 million was invested to create 41 units in Tay Township (Victoria Harbour); and $22.3 million was invested to create 147 units in Collingwood.
“Other communities have done their part,” said Burton. “We need to start somewhere.”
He said he hears the same question from the public all the time, what are we doing for our seniors?
Mayor Doug Measures was not in support of the additional taxation, saying he would rather have a low increase. (Council started Monday’s workshop with an estimated net tax increase of 1.92 per cent.)
“We are more agricultural than we are urban,” said Measures, adding both youth and seniors migrate towards urban centres. “The need for a seniors’ complex is not as high as you are hopeful.”
Measures said he doesn’t think Clearview meets some of the other criteria for the county’s affordable housing program, including transit system and health care facilities, and 50 cents of every tax dollar is already going to the county.
Creemore councillor Thom Paterson was also opposed to the allocation of funds saying, “we really need to understand the proposal.”
Paterson said after the vote, which did pass, “I can’t believe we did that without seeing anything on paper. Unbelievable!”
As a side note, CAO Steve Sage said council should be cautious because the tax relief it enjoys from the offset of lower increases at the county level and at the school district level won’t last forever.
As the population grows in Clearview, taxes will balance out and the taxpayer will start to feel the full impact of municipal budget increases.
“We are driving nails in Clearview,” said Sage. “Those days are coming to an end. The growth is coming here.”
Sunndidale Corners Community Centre renovation denied
Next on deck, Councillor Connie Leishman asked council to add $350,000 to the budget for a new wheelchair accessible front entrance for Sunndidale Corners Community Centre.
The hall board has been working with Clearview staff to create a concept plan for an addition that would have an elevator and universal washroom. The estimated price tag is $450,000 but the hall board already has $100,000 in its coffers.
The expenditure was defeated in a split vote because those opposed opted to wait for an updated accessibility report for all the halls, which is expected to come to the council table on March 2. It will be an updated version of the 2012 report prepared by R. J. Burnside and Associates.
“Council will be asked to make some big decisions with regard to all the halls,” said Clearview’s General Manager of Parks, Culture and Recreation, Terry Vachon.
Last June, council approved a $20,700 cost to conduct “a more detailed report with specific reference to accessibility deficiencies items that do not meet current Ontario Building Code accessibility standards and Facility Accessibility Design Standards.”
The 2012 report estimated a cost of $710,000 to make all six halls – Avening, Sunnidale Corners, Nottawa, Duntroon, Brentwood and Dunedin.
The CAO again cautioned council because the Sunnidale Corners price tag does not include all the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements necessary to make the hall fully accessible but Leishman said the hall board has the other projects under control and would not be back asking for more money.
“Are you sure you want to proceed this way,” asked Paterson.
“We want to get this done,” said Leishman, adding that the board has wanted to do this for a long time and has been saving.
“Sunnidale has never asked for anything from council. They have done everything on their own…,” she told council. “To get into a serious discussion we need to know that council is behind us. If you’re not behind us, we are going to scrap the whole thing.”
The discussion raised a past renovation project for Avening Hall, which was approved by council. The 2012 accessibility estimate in the 2012 report was $225,000 but when it went to tender, including kitchen upgrades, the job was priced at $850,000.
Council did not approve the tender due to the much higher than expected cost and the project stalled.
It has also given cause for concern about the reality of tender prices, versus the estimates provided.
Sage said that was one of his concerns.
“A decision will have to be made and it’s going to be hard… Council has not had the opportunity to discuss what other halls will get.”
That caused Burton to ask, “Who comes first, who comes second?… If we give $350,000 to Sunnidale, do we give $350,000 to Avening?”
“The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost,” countered Leishman, saying it would show the province they are starting.
Other councillors said they do need to start on OADA requirements, but there is only $1,015,788.39 in the account for such projects.
“I don’t understand the urgency now, over any other hall,” said Paterson. “Every other hall could make the same argument.”
He made a motion to defer until after the Burnside report is received but it was defeated. The same motion tabled by Burton was also defeated.
Measures said he was concerned that council doesn’t have all the information and offered Leishman a chance to withdraw her motion.
Then, the original motion was defeated in a tie-vote.
Comprehensive traffic management study
Council approved that a comprehensive traffic management study be conducted in 2020, at a cost of $35,000.
Paterson brought this initiative to the table
He said council has been responding to community traffic concerns as one-offs without addressing the overall traffic management in the township.
“Our staff want to follow the guidelines set out in provincial regulations and of course, we in the wards want to respond to real life concerns about safety on our roads,” said Paterson.
As a result, council has approved a number of stop signs that do not conform to the Ontario Traffic Manual.
The purchase of radar speed signs and the adoption of a new Traffic Calming Policy are a good start, said Paterson, but a study would result in proper data and analysis that could be used to create a traffic management plan, with input from the public.
“I want to move away from the squeaky wheel to a recognized public process. I want to stop being responsive and a onsie-twosie basis and I want to move to a decision making framework that everybody – staff, council and the public – recognize as the way we are going to do this, and if there are exceptions we can talk about those exceptions but generally we should live by this program that we are going to put in place,” he said.
Paterson said the goal is to show proof there is a safety concern, measured by the analytics.
The $35,000 is to be allocated from the Federal Gas Tax reserve.
Economic Development Committee of the Whole
This is another initiative that Paterson has wanted to see realized for some time. It is actually a double whammy, as he has wanted to see both a committee of the whole meeting structure adopted, in addition to having an economic development strategy in place.
“What we haven’t been able to do is have a more consistent and township wide policy on what we want the township to look like from a business point of view,” said Paterson. “How do we want it to prosper? What services do we want to offer locally and what services do we want to support regionally?”
“We have been talking about it for a long time. I would say council is very much in favour of doing it, we’ve just finally got off the mark.”
He said the committee of the whole model includes all members of council but allows more time for exploration of specific agenda items and offers a sober second thought option before the decisions are ratified at a regular council meeting.
The budget and tax rates won’t be finalized until later in the spring when the county and school board budgets are passed.
Community grants awarded
As part of budget deliberations, council is giving out $29,950 in community grants.
The total amounts to a little less than half of the $60,000 available to community groups and organizations that operate within Clearview, despite almost all of the 22 organizations who submitted requests for funding getting the full amount.
That leaves a balance of $30,050 for future requests.
• Breaking Down Barriers, $2,000
• Brentwood Horticultural Society, $700
• Clearview Community Theatre, $2,000
• Clearview Minor Hockey Association, $3,000
• Clearview Soccer Club, $3,000
• Clearview Stayner Food Bank, $2,000
• Creemore Cats, $750
• Creemore Horticultural Society, $1,000 for community beautification projects
• Dunedin Literary Festival, $750
• Duntroon Stayner Road Race, $1,000
• Georgian Triangle Humane Society, $1,000 for spay/neuter assistance program
• Home Horizon Transitional Program, $1,000
• Hospice Georgian Triangle Foundation, $2,500
• Magic of Children in the Arts, $1,000
• My Friend’s House – Collingwood Crisis Centre, $1,000
• Royal Canadian Legion Branch 397 Creemore, $1,000 for Canada Day
• SilverShoe Historical Society, $1,200 for Bethel • Union Cemetery/Sunnidale Pioneer historical site
• Simcoe 4-H, $250
• Stayner Heritage Society, $300
• Stayner Horticultural Society/Stayner Garden Club, $1,000 for community beautification projects Stayner • Lawn Bowling Club, $1,000
• The Beinn Gorm Highlanders, $2,500