The Stockwell Report V1-E18

THE STOCKWELL REPORT
Earlier this week two long-awaited reports were presented to the Wasaga Beach Council, meeting as The Committee of the Whole. The first was a draft report of the Corporate Efficiency Review, and the second was from the Integrity Commissioner.
The draft report of the Corporate Efficiency Review of the Municipality was presented by Oscar Poloni, a partner in the firm of KPMG, Chartered Accountants. KPMG is highly respected   in the field of municipal administration, and Mr. Poloni is well experienced in that field.
In Mr. Poloni`s covering letter that accompanies the report, he states, “As outlined in the RFP, the purpose of the review was to evaluate the organizational structure of the Town with the intention of identifying potential opportunities for the enhancement of operating efficiency and effectiveness. As outlined in further detail of the report, while the review has identified some courses of action that could be considered by the Town, the overall results of our analysis indicate that the Town currently operates with a highly degree of operating efficiency and effectiveness.”
Under the “Key Themes” section of the report it states, “Based on the results of our review, a number of themes have emerged concerning our conclusions as to the Town`s effectiveness and efficiency, which we summarize in this chapter.
The Town enjoys a strong financial position. Based on its most recent reported financial results, we consider the Town to be in a strong financial position, with meaningful surpluses that are funded through financial as opposed to non-financial assets. While the Town has taken on debt in connection with the acquisition of beachfront properties, we do not consider this to pose a significant challenge to its financial situation.”

This should ease the concerns of those citizens who constantly comment on social media of what they refer to as the present Council’s mishandling of the Town`s spending and that the future consists of huge tax increases.

 

During Mr. Polone`s presentation he commented that he clearly understood the reasoning behind the purchase of the beachfront properties and he too would have supported the position to do so at that time.
Mr. Poloni’s parting words were, “that in all my years of reviewing municipal operations, this Town’s operation is one of the best that I have seen.”
Council has now taken the report onto themselves and will no doubt be referring to it during the budget process.
The second presentation was from the Town`s Integrity Commissioner, Robert Swayze.
He submitted a letter stating that since his appointment in November of 2015, Wasaga Beach was one of his most active clients. He had 12 formal complaints in 2016 under the Code of Conduct, two of which are still in process and one which has been dismissed in confidence.
Two complaints were laid against the Deputy

Mayor that she generally does not show respect for Council in debating issues. One against the Mayor for silencing Council members in meetings, and three complaints against Yours Truly for “disrespectful comments” against the Deputy Mayor made in social media.
Two additional complaints were made against the Mayor for having meetings with prospective tenants contrary to the purchasing by-law while requests for proposals were out for bids and after proposals had been before Council.
After investigating the complaints the Commissioner agreed with the Town Solicitor that he had no jurisdiction in this area.
The last complaint to be dealt with in this report was a complaint against the Deputy Mayor which alleged that she failed to respond to a series of questions put to her by a constituent. It was the Commissioner`s opinion that it is the electorate who must judge whether a Councillor is diligent and not the Integrity Commissioner.
There are two complaints outstanding and are still in the process of being investigated.
Councillors had the opportunity to question the Commissioner on all matters, and, when it came to my turn, I  stated that I totally agreed with members of the public having access to such a process, and having their identity protected in doing so. However, I had problems with members of Council taking other members of Council to the Commissioner, and remaining anonymous while those Councillors that have been accused are publicly named, even though the accusations against them were dismissed.
I pointed out that we are all politicians and must go back to the electorate for support, should we decide to run for re-election. At that time today’s report could be used against us, and I felt it was an unfair process. I also pointed out that the notice of dismissal of both accusations against me was sent to me marked “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL”, leaving me no opportunity to publicly defend myself.
I also stated that it has always been my belief that complaints that members may have against other members should be taken to Council rather than the Integrity Commissioner. This is because Council is a forum for debate, and all members have the right to join into such a debate.
The Commissioner replied that he too thought it best for Councillors to bring such matters to Council, however, under the Municipal Act he must keep the names of all parties accusing members of Council private.
I then asked that if I went public, giving all details of any unfounded accusation against me, would he sanction me?
His answer was that he would not invoke sanctions against me for releasing details of failed complaints.
Councillor Belanger pointed out that Councillors who choose to file complaints under the Integrity Commissioner process were using taxpayers dollars to pay for that process.
So, when the dust was settled we are left with no change in the process.  However, Councillors who have had other Councillors take them to the Integrity Commissioner, but failed to make their case, are now faced with both their accusations, and the defence of those accused, becoming released for all to see.
That just might do away with a number of Councillor vs. Councillor accusations being made in the future.

 

 

The Stockwell Report V1-E17

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

This past week the Wasaga Beach Council, in  dealing with the Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee, received a report from Planner Nathan Wukasch entitled : Official Plan Update Report # 5 of 11, Coordinated Review of

Provincial Policy Documents, Proposed Changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Planning for Health, Prosperity, and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

As this report will have a profound impact on the future land use development of our community, it deserves to be read in its entirety, as follows:

STAFF REPORT

TO: Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee

FROM: Nathan Wukasch, Planner

SUBJECT: Official Plan Update Report #5 of 11

Coordinated Review of Provincial Policy Documents

Proposed Changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Planning for Health, Prosperity, and Growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

DATE: October 13, 2016

RECOMMENDATION:

“THAT Development Services Section of Coordinated Committee recommends to Council that it

receive the report on the Coordinated Review of Provincial Policy Documents: Proposed Growth Plan

Amendment and authorize staff to provide comments to the Province based on this report.”

BACKGROUND:

In July 2016, Staff reported to Development Services Section on the need to overhaul the Town’s

Official Plan to create a growth management strategy along with a number of other policy updates.

This report is the fifth of eleven reports on Official Plan Update matters. This OP update work has

commenced, and will be a priority for staff in January 2017 upon the completion of the Downtown

Master Plan.

The Province of Ontario struck an Advisory Panel to provide recommendations in a coordinated

review of four Provincial Plans: the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006), the

Greenbelt Plan (2005), the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2002), and the Niagara

Escarpment Plan (1985). Staff reported to the Development Services Section in March 2016 on the

Comprehensive Coordinated Review report, which contained 87 recommendations on six strategic

directions.

The Province has now issued proposed amendments to all four Provincial Plans, and is seeking

comments by October 31, 2016. The four Plans are generally focussed on growth in the Greater

Toronto Area and the broader Greater Golden Horseshoe. Although within the ‘Outer Ring’ of the

GTA, the County of Simcoe (and Barrie and Orillia) is included in the Growth Plan due to significant

growth pressure from people seeking the natural environment and recreational opportunities, retirees,

second home/vacation property owners, and families seeking improved quality of life from more urban

environments.

For the Town of Wasaga Beach, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe is the relevant

plan which has a significant impact on long-range land use planning, promoting intensification and

efficient use of services in the pursuit of creating complete communities. This report focuses on the

proposed changes to the Growth Plan. The other three Plans have minimal effect on land use in the

County of Simcoe as a whole, and no impact on the Town itself as the Town is not geographically

located within their Plan Areas.

DISCUSSION:

Planning Staff attended a technical briefing by the Province in June and attended a County Planner’s

meeting in August 2016 at which the Province gave a high level overview of the proposed changes to

all of the Plans (See Appendix A). The proposed Amendment to the Growth Plan makes significant

updates to the Provincial policy context to which upper tier and local municipalities must conform.

Changes are made under 6 themes: Building Complete Communities; Supporting Agriculture;

Protecting Natural Heritage and Water; Integrating Infrastructure; Addressing Climate Change; and

Improving Plan Implementation.

Building Complete Communities

Municipal Comprehensive Reviews:

Upper tier and local municipalities must develop an integrated approach to planning and managing

growth to 2041 which will be implemented through a municipal comprehensive review. A municipal

comprehensive review is a new Official Plan, or an Official Plan Amendment that comprehensively

applies the Growth Plan policies. The Town will formally commence an update to the Official Plan in

January 2017, which will contain a growth management strategy. If approved, the Town’s Official Plan

update will include all of the policies referred to in this report.

Intensification and Density Targets:

The Province is proposing to require municipalities, through their next municipal comprehensive

review, to increase minimum intensification targets and greenfield density targets. Minimum

intensification targets are proposed to be increased from 40% to 60% of annual residential

development to occur within the built boundary area of a municipality. Minimum density targets for

designated greenfield areas (outside the built boundary) are proposed to increase from 50 to 80

people and jobs per hectare and would be planned to be achieved by 2041.

These intensification and greenfield density targets are intended to apply to the urban municipalities

of the GTA. The Growth Plan identifies a hierarchy of urban areas with respective expectations for

form and density of development. The County of Simcoe and Wasaga Beach is within the ‘outer ring’

of the GTA, and has had lower alternative targets approved for growth. The Growth Plan identifies

Barrie as an ‘Urban Growth Centre’. Collingwood, Midland/Penetanguishene, Bradford, Alliston,

Alcona, Orillia and Barrie are all identified as ‘Primary Settlement Areas’. With these designations the

Growth Plan requires 40% intensification and urban densities of 50 people and jobs per hectare in

greenfield areas.

It should be noted that Simcoe County has been permitted lower intensification targets and

designated greenfield targets than the rest of the Greater Golden Horseshoe through Growth plan

Amendment No. 1 in 2012. For Wasaga Beach, the Growth Plan currently requires 20%

intensification and 32 people and jobs per hectare in greenfield areas. These lower targets have now

been approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in the County’s Official Plan in 2016. The following

table describes the current and proposed densities in Wasaga Beach.

Intensification Target

(% residential development within

Built Boundary)

Designated Greenfield Area Density

Target (Combined People and Jobs per

hectare)

Growth Plan

(2006)

40% 50

Approved Alternative

Targets for WB

(GP Amendment No. 1

and County of Simcoe

Official Plan)

20% 32

Proposed Growth Plan

Amendment (2016)

60% 80

The Simcoe County Homebuilders Association have recently written to the area municipalities to

lobby against the proposed increases to the intensification and designated greenfield density targets.

They provide a chart entitled “What does 80 People and Jobs per Hectare Look Like?” which is

helpful to visualize the type of built form and density required to meet the proposed targets (Appendix

B). With the creation of a mixed-use downtown for Wasaga Beach, the intention is to increase

densities and create a sense of place to encourage investment. A goal of the Town’s Growth

Management Strategy will be to swing the balance from lower density single detached dwellings

towards higher density townhouses and mid-rise apartment dwellings in more compact urban form.

This could help the Town become a more complete community, meet a higher intensification target,

increase affordability, and make the existing land supply last longer. When complete, the Downtown

Master Plan will quantify a realistic goal for intensification and higher density development specific to

the Town centre.

Staff are of the opinion that it is not realistic to achieve the proposed intensification target (60% of

residential growth within the built boundary) and designated greenfield density target (80 people and

jobs per hectare in greenfield areas) at this time. Staff recommend continuing to meet the Province

and County’s approved minimum intensification and designated greenfield density targets, while

assessing whether it is feasible to achieve higher targets through the Downtown Master Plan and the

Official Plan Update and Growth Management Strategy.

Excess Lands:

Most of the Simcoe Sub-Area policies of the Growth Plan remain the same, other than the Excess

Lands Framework. Municipalities in the Outer Ring within the Growth Plan are required to identify and

prohibit development on any excess land that is beyond the 2041 horizon. The Simcoe Sub-Area is

exempt from this requirement and may designate lands in excess of the 2031 targets, provide that

certain criteria are met. However, this exemption is proposed to be cease on January 19, 2022,

meaning the Town would have to comply and complete the land budgeting exercise needed to

identify excess lands and prohibit development on them. The purpose is to encourage municipalities

to plan for and accommodate forecasted growth within the horizon of the Growth Plan.

Transit:

The proposed Amendment includes specific minimum transit-supportive density targets for major

transit station areas, depending on the type of transit to be supported. Municipalities would be

required to integrate Active Transportation networks into transportation planning to provide

continuous linkages between strategic growth areas and other key destinations. When designing,

refurbishing or reconstructing the existing or planned street network, municipalities would be required

to adopt a complete streets approach that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are

considered and accommodated. Staff support these policy initiatives as they create a healthy public

realm with a supportive network of active transportation infrastructure.

Community Hubs:

Direction is provided to create community hubs by co-locating public service facilities. The Town is

pursuing this direction for future services through the creation of a Downtown Master Plan, and have

historically co-located services at the Wasaga Beach RecPlex and SportsPark.

Employment Areas:

Section 2.2.5.6 states that employment areas within settlement areas will be designated and planned

to: a) direct any permitted commercial uses to locations that support active transportation and are

serviced by transit, where that service is available; b) prohibit residential land uses and limit other

sensitive lands uses to preserve the long-term integrity of the employment areas for uses that require

these locations; and c) integrate employment area with adjacent non-employment areas and develop

vibrant mixed-use areas and innovation hubs where appropriate. The Growth Plan relies on the

definition of employment lands in the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) which means areas

designated for clusters of business and economic activities including, but not limited to

manufacturing, warehousing, offices and associated retail and ancillary facilities.

 

The Town has already exceeded the 2031 Growth Plan employment target primarily due to

population and tourism-based employment. Employment within the Town has historically consisted of

85% population and tourism-based jobs with the remaining 15% being traditional ‘employment lands’

jobs. Hemson Consulting forecasts this trend to continue to 2031. The Downtown Master Plan will

continue to support population and tourism-based employment opportunities in a vibrant, mixed-use

Town centre. Staff are of the opinion that there is a policy gap in the Province’s approach to

employment in tourism-based economies such as Wasaga Beach. There would be no recognition of

the importance of tourism and population-based employment in mixed-use areas that provide a key

employment function in such as the main beachfront tourist area of Wasaga Beach. Staff expect that

the population and tourism-based job growth will continue and in providing comments on the

proposed Growth Plan Amendment, will seek clarity in the Province’s employment lands policy

program for tourism-based economies.

Integrating Infrastructure

The Growth Plan Amendment provides new direction that planning for infrastructure would need to

occur in an integrated manner, supported by Infrastructure Master Plans and Asset Management

Plans to ensure infrastructure is financially viable over its full life cycle. There is a new policy that

recognizes infrastructure investment as an implementation tool that will be used to facilitate higher density

development in strategic growth areas, such as the main beachfront, the downtown, and other

growth nodes within the Town of Wasaga Beach.

Other Key Policies

Staff support other policies that protect natural heritage and water resources, and address climate

change through encouraging low-impact development techniques and green infrastructure.

Improving Plan Implementation

Planning authorities are encouraged to coordinate planning matters with First Nations and Metis

communities. The Province proposes to support the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring

and reporting program for Growth Plan policies.

The proposed Growth Plan requires conformity by 2021, which would supersede the current

requirement to conform to Growth Plan Amendment No. 2 by 2018.

CONCLUSION:

The proposed Growth Plan Amendment contains comprehensive policy changes that further the

Province’s goals for building complete communities, supporting agriculture, protecting natural

heritage and water, integrating infrastructure, and addressing climate change. They seek comments

on the proposed changes by October 31, 2016.

At this time, the Town’s main concerns relate to the increased intensification and greenfield density

targets, and seek clarity on the employment lands policies. Staff recommend that Council authorize

staff to provide comments to the Province on the proposed Growth Plan Amendment in keeping with

this report.

Respectfully submitted,

Nathan Wukasch, RPP, MCIP

Planner
This is another dictate from the Province to municipalities that will tie local planners hands when it comes to local development.

The Stockwell Report V1-E16

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

As historians look back on the present term of the Wasaga Beach Council, the year 2015 will be remembered as the year that the commercial properties along Beach One were purchased by the municipality. The purchase then kicked off a major rehabilitation of not only the heart of the longest freshwater beach in the world, but also the revitalization of the tourist industry that relies on that heart to pump the life blood of the community.

Generally, the purchase was well received by the ratepayers of the municipality in spite of a vocal minority of critics.

Like life itself, only time will tell if Council`s actions were good or bad.

As we are coming to the end of 2016, another major decision has been placed at Council`s doorstep: the future of Wasaga Distribution Inc.,  better known as “Wasaga Beach Hydro”.

The elected council, among numerous other responsibilities, represents the Town Ratepayers who are the shareholders of Wasaga Geosands Inc., the holding company of Wasaga Distribution (“WDI”), and Wasaga Resource Services Inc., the owner/operators of the local hydro commission .

The day-to-day operation of the facility is directed by a small group of ratepayers, recommended by the Mayor, and appointed by Council, that make up the Board of Directors of WDI.

The sale of the facility was in the rumour mill during the last election, in the Fall of 2014. The results of that election saw only two members of the previous council returned to office, and of those who were elected, if my memory serves me correctly, unanimously opposed a sale during the election campaign.

In fact, I can`t recall any candidate, old or new, supporting a proposed sale at that time. However, I certainly stand to be corrected.

At any rate, in January 2016 the present Council was approached by the WDI Board of Directors, ”requesting direction to embark upon a process that would result in recommendations to Town Council concerning a range of outcomes that will help best leverage, or harvest, the benefits of the Municipal asset”. Upon approval to proceed with the proposed process, the legal firm of Borden Lander Gervais was contracted to assist the local WDI in preparing that process.

A July 2016 report to Council stated “Of late, the Ontario Provincial Government is encouraging Local Distribution Companies (“LDCs”) to consolidate. A number of Provincial studies point to over $1B in distribution consolidation savings.”

Minister of Energy`s comments leave little room for interpretation.

Currently in Ontario 63 LDCs serve only 30% of all customers. WDI is one of these utilities.

OEB have made regulatory changes designed to help facilitate consolidation. These changes acknowledge that both shareholder and customers must benefit from consolidation.

Temporary tax relief also provides an incentive to consolidate.

Three options have been placed before Council: Retain and Grow, Merger, or Sale.

Given the choice, I believe that a Merger or Sale would be non-starters with the average ratepayer, based on the belief that the local Board is well managed and any merger or sale would result in higher costs to that ratepayer.

What the average ratepayer doesn`t realize is that the local Wasaga Beach LDC controls less than 17 percent of the monthly hydro bill. The balance of the account is split between the cost of creating electricity (generation), the delivery of electricity (transmission), regulatory costs, and debt retirement.

In other words, only $17 of a $100 hydro bill is controlled locally.

So, like it or not, when deciding the future of the Wasaga Beach LDC, Council is faced with a decision to Retain and Grow, Merger, or Sale.

This was the subject of a report from the Town’s CAO, George Vadeboncoeur at the Committee of the Whole meeting that took place earlier this week.

After a lengthy discussion on the subject, the following resolution was passed: “That Committee of the Whole recommend to Council that it begin a public consultation process on the future of Wasaga Distribution Inc. and Wasaga Resources Services Inc. based on the analysis and recommendations prepared by the Board of Directors of the two corporations commencing with a presentation of the Report to Council at the October 25th Council meeting.”

Locally this process of consolidation is evident, for example:

Aurora – Merged with PowerStream

Barrie – Merged with PowerStream

Georgian Bay – Purchased by Hydro One

Gravenhurst – Purchased by Veridian

Orillia – Sale to Hydro One in negotiation

Parry Sound – Merged with Lakeland

Tay – Merged with Newmarket

Midland – Pursuing sale option

Collingwood – Pursuing sale option

The Board of Directors of WDI have done its homework as to the future of the Hydro Commission. It has presented Council with a well thought out study that outlines three choices of operations for the future of the local Commission.

Council has decided that the next step in considering the future of hydro operations within the municipality must involve the Wasaga Beach Ratepayers who truly are the owners of the facility.

Council is not unanimous in this decision.

However, a majority of the Committee of the Whole of Council have voted to make available to the Wasaga Ratepayers all the background information on the subject matter, hold Public Meetings throughout the municipality to listen to the voices of the residents, and organize a process that will allow the Ratepayers the opportunity to show Council their preferences before a final decision is made.

The ratepayers of Wasaga Beach, who really own Wasaga Hydro, will be heard.

 

The Stockwell Report V1-E15

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

 

On August 26th of this year The Stockwell Report commented on two public meetings that covered the launch of The Master Plan for Downtown Wasaga Beach, a $350,000 study for the creation of a downtown core made up of retail, residential, and leisure facilities.

 

The project was jointly financed by the Province, Regional Tourism Seven, Simcoe County, Stonebridge Town Centre, developer Hamount Investments, and the Municipality, with the Town`s share being $35,000.

 

During those meetings, attendees were asked to participate by designating their choice of the core of the proposed downtown on a map which showed Beach One and the area of Main Street south of the Main Street bridge.

 

If my memory serves me correctly, the overwhelming public choice was the area south of the Main Street bridge.

 

The planning consultants, Forrec Limited, stated that they would take that information away  and work on a second set of public meetings to review recommended options regarding a development plan.

 

Earlier this week that meeting took place with approximately 200 residents in attendance.

 

Opening remarks at that meeting, from Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith, stated that the planning exercise must be “affordable, realistic, and sustainable”. Those comments were echoed by the consultants as they presented “different options for consideration, and they would be reporting back next month.” They went on to state “We are still at the idea stage”.

As the evening went on, it became apparent that the consultants were presenting two development nodes for consideration, these being the area immediately south of the Main Street bridge (as suggested by the majority of attendees at the August public meeting) and a second development node focused on the heart of Beach One.

 

The consultant’s approach to the development of the two nodes were clearly different. They spoke of the Main Street South area as a “community hub”, made up of things like a new town hall, a library, and even a high school (which was met with applause by those in attendance) .

 

It was suggested that those public facilities could be complemented by four to six storied condos with a number of small retail outlets being created at the street level of the residential structures. The retail outlets should be focused on providing “the best little bakery/cafe, the best little butcher, and the best little dining facility”.

The idea being that that type of retail wouldn`t call for large capital outlay, yet would draw both local and tourist trade to the area.

 

When it came to the Beach One area, a Resort/Residential type of development was visualised, not unlike the Blue Mountain resort at Collingwood`s Ski Hills.

 

It was noted that it would be easier to proceed with the Beach One development in that the municipality owns most of the land fronting the beach.

 

The consultants then spent some time speaking of things like indoor water parks, now existing in both Canada and the U.S.A, and what type of capital expenditures it takes to create such facilities. They also discussed a number of other Resort/Residential concepts that probably would be a stretch for the Wasaga Beach market.

 

The meeting went longer than expected, given the interest of those in attendance, and the closing comments by the consultants, after a brief question and answer period, were that they would again host a third session on November Third to present a status report on the study.

 

Now, sooner or later the consultants will bring a plan to the Wasaga Beach Council for its consideration, and, once adopted, the wheels will start turning towards attracting interested developers with the financing needed to bring the final plan into being.

 

As stated, it is clear that the Beach One strip would be the easiest to launch, given Council`s decision to bring those commercial properties into public ownership. However, if that should happen, the danger in such a decision could lead to picking low-hanging fruit that could be both the beginning and the end of an ambitious plan.

 

There are two communities within a few hours drive of Wasaga Beach that should be visited by anyone interested in economic development plans that changed the face of small communities: Goderich and Belleville.

 

In August 2011 the town of Goderich’s downtown was devastated by a tornado. The downtown has since been rebuilt, carried out by the Downtown Master Plan, and the town is now working on the Goderich Waterfront Master Plan, that would connect its waterfront with the highly successful downtown area.

 

Now, the property owners were probably working with a good amount of insurance money, that came as a result of the tornado, and was used to finance the downtown development.

 

However, a daytrip to the area to see the downtown redevelopment first hand, would give the viewer a look at what a community can do when committed to a well thought out plan.

 

The second day trip would be visiting the City of Belleville to view the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre. The facility houses three N.H.L. size ice pads, an Aquatic Centre with an eight lane, twenty-five meter pool, a large multi-use gymnasium, retail space, and a host of other community facilities.

 

As Councilor Ron Ego has said about many a project that crosses Councils desks, “Let`s do it right”.

 

 

 

The Stockwell Report E-1 V-14

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

On May 15, 2015, the Wasaga Beach Council purchased seven properties along Beach Drive. These include eight buildings and 28 rental units, which included three bars that were closed at the time.

On May 21, 2015, a staff report to the Committee of the Whole stated, “Leading up to the purchase the previous owners were actively

trying to lease the food and retail units at Beachfront and at closing had 13 signed leases and one tentative lease. The current leases were assigned to the Town as part of the transaction.”

Under the direction of George Vadeboncoeur, the Chief Administrative Officer, staff proceeded to rent the remaining properties prior to the unofficial opening of the tourist  season, the July First week-end.

Due to the tight time restraints, only one operator could obtain the necessary liquor licences, etc., to meet the deadline. So that operator was given a one year lease on the three bar properties.

The balance of the units were leased on a standard commercial lease for a one year term.

Following the 2015 season, the Town hired a new Economic Development and Tourism Director, who, together with the C.A.O., proceeded to call for leasing proposals on the three bars, as well as the remaining storefront units.

The Town also set out to establish a number of kiosks, as well as a permanent “beer tent” facility along the Main Street Market section of Beach One.

Again, working under a tight time frame to meet the July First Week-end, nearly all of the Beach One properties were leased in time for the 2016 season.

However, the 2016 program was not unanimously supported by Council, and subsequently drew constant criticism from a small group of ratepayers, mostly via social media.

As the 2016 season wound down, a few beachfront tenants publicly voiced complaints, aimed at Town staff. This lead to a report being submitted to a Committee of Council, on July 14, 2016, recommending that, “staff be directed to arrange a meeting with all tenants currently operating in Town-owned beachfront units at Beach Area One, including kiosk operators at the Main Street Market, so that an open conversation pertaining to any issues or concerns on the part of the tenants can occur and any steps required to resolve issues or concerns be identified;

And Further That the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee recommend to Council that staff be directed at the meeting to offer a one-time opportunity for any current tenant in a Town-owned beachfront unit or Kiosk to break their lease immediately with no penalty if they wish to do so;

AND FINALLY THAT the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee recommend to Council that staff be directed to report back to the next meeting of the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee on the outcomes of the meeting and any recommended actions required to resolve issues or concerns.”

So….this past Monday evening that meeting took place and a number of Beach One tenants were in attendance. All of Council, along with a few interested ratepayers sat in the audience to witness the proceedings.

The first speaker was Alex Smardenka, a well known restaurateur, and owner of the Marlwood Golf Course. The Smardenka family operated one of the Main Street Market kiosks, and his comments were very supportive of the efforts made by the Town in creating a successful summer program and the first year results of the venture.

He went on to comment on the “nay sayers” and the fact that there is opposition to the Town’s efforts were “counterproductive”.

He stated that he felt the Town acted as a fair landlord and everyone should work together towards the success of the venture.

The speakers that followed were generally supportive of the 2016 program, but did point out problems they had with the different promoters that ran special events throughout the summer.

Their concerns were legitimate, and certainly solvable with a clearer understanding of a new set of “ground rules” governing both tenants and the promoters of the special events that are staged at the site. Everyone seemed to agree that the special events drew people to the site and, overall, was good for the economy of the Town.

However, there was a conflict between the two when it came to sharing the site, something that probably could be solved by a closer working plan presented prior to the staging of each event.

In my opinion nothing was raised that couldn`t be addressed.

Also, the “nay sayers’” complaints were not echoed by the tenants.

The C.A.O., in my opinion, did a good job of chairing the evening, and everyone went away with the feeling that they were listened to, in a fair manner, and their concerns will be addressed.

On the matter of breaking a lease with no penalties, the C.A.O. explained that all tenants have until 4.30 p.m., September 23, to submit their request to do so.

I am sure that some tenants may take advantage of doing so, based on personal circumstances. However, the thought of a major exodus on behalf of the tenants is simply wishful thinking by a handful of disgruntled citizens.

The Stockwell Report E-1 V13

THE WASAGA BEACH STOCKWELL REPORT

If you were looking up past Premiers of Ontario on Wikipedia, you would come across the following:

Frank Stuart Miller (May 14, 1927-July 21, 2000)  was a Canadian politician, who served as the 19th Premier of Ontario for four months in 1985. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1971 as a Progressive Conservative member for the Central Ontario riding of Muskoka. He served in the cabinet of Premier Bill Davis in several portfolios including Minister of Health,and Minister of Natural Resources. He also served five years as Treasurer of Ontario.

When Davis resigned in 1984 he vied for the leadership of the party and won over a slate of three other candidates. In February, 1985 he formed a cabinet of 33 members, which was the largest in Ontario`s history. Miller quickly called an election which was held on May 2. His party lost 18 seats but still held the most seats at 52.

He formed a minority government that lasted less than two months when the Liberals, under David Peterson, and the New Democrats, under Bob Rae, formed an unofficial coalition and defeated the government on a confidence motion on June 26.

Initially, Miller stayed on as leader of the opposition, but resigned shortly after.

 

After retirement from provincial politics he moved back to Muskoka where he became Chairman of the District of Muskoka. He died in 2000.

Now…What does this have to do with Wasaga Beach ?

Well, Frank Miller was the Minister of Natural Resources in June, 1978, when that Ministry released the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park Master Plan.

The opening paragraph of the Minister`s Approval Statement of the Master Plan clearly set the economic future of the newly formed Town of Wasaga Beach.

It reads as follows; “Wasaga Beach, since the popular and widespread use of the automobile, has been one of the most popular recreation areas of Ontario. As one of the best swimming beaches in the Province, Wasaga Beach has been magic to millions of visitors. Located completely within the Town of Wasaga Beach, the provincial scope and seasonal nature of the recreational resource became a problem for the local municipality. At the request of the community, the provincial government was asked to manage the beach and control the fun and sun seekers.

Consequently, throughout  the past decade a joint municipal and provincial program evolved for developing the Town of Wasaga Beach into a complete, serviced, year round resort community with Wasaga Beach Provincial Park playing a major role.”

The closing paragraph of the Minister`s Approval Statement reads, “In accordance with the Provincial Park Act, Sections 1D and 7A, this masterplan is approved as the official policy for the development and management of the park. The implementation of the Wasaga Beach Master Plan represents a key component of the commitment by the Province to help the Town of Wasaga Beach to develop a viable recreational community for all seasons.”

For close to three decades the relationship between the Province and the Town went well. However, in 2006 the provincial government, under the leadership of Premier Dalton McGuinty, introduced The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, which changed the interpretation, objectives, and management of provincial parks. The new direction was capsulized in the new Act as follows: “Ontario`s provincial parks and conservation reserves are dedicated to the people of Ontario and visitors for their inspiration, education, health, recreational enjoyment and other benefits with the intention that these areas shall be managed to maintain their ecological integrity and to leave them unimpaired for future generations.”

The statement illustrates a clear shift from recreation and tourism to conservation. One that didn`t impact on the working relationship between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Town of Wasaga Beach immediately, however, as time went by, and as ministry budgets became tighter in some areas, the maintenance of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park  became wanting.

 

Today, under successive leadership of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne the facilities within the Park are deplorable. The beach washrooms, within their lands, are almost unusable as a result of lack of day-to-day maintenance. More attention is given to the plight of the plovers than the comfort of the tourist that pay to visit the park. The Province pays little attention to the Spring clean-up of Beach Five, and of late, have allowed beach areas to be invaded by invasive vegetation that is reducing the area of sandy beaches.

Fortunately, three ratepayer groups, whose properties abut the beach, together with the Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer of the town, have banded together. They created a petition aimed at the Ministry of Natural Resources to address the issues within the Park, specifically the problem of the invasive vegetation that has literally taken over the beach area.

Faye Ego, who represents the Allenwood Ratepayers, Marsha Ramage, of the West Wasaga Beach Ratepayers, and Howard Wilson, of the Central Wasaga Beach Homeowners, have created a joint website that promotes the petition to the residents of Wasaga Beach.

The website is http://www.savewasaga.com, and I would urge you to visit the site, sign the petition, and urge your friends and neighbours to do the same.

When completed, Mayor Smith has agreed to present the petition to the Province in hopes of bringing the Ministry and the Provincial Government back to the Province of Ontario`s original commitment to the people of Wasaga Beach in assisting the town in its efforts to further recreation and tourism built around The Worlds Longest Fresh Water Beach.

Past Councils followed the 1978 vision and  worked with the Province to promote tourism, rather than industry, as a strong tax base for the Municipality. It is unconscionable for the Province to now go back on its commitment by using the provincial parkland in a manner that hurts the town rather than helps it.

Adding your name to the ratepayers’ petition is truly drawing a line in the sand.

Now is the time to step up and be heard.

The Stockwell Report V1-E12

THE WASAGA BEACH STOCKWELL REPORT

Last week this column was dedicated to the process of developing a new downtown for Wasaga Beach. It spoke of the appointment of a multidisciplinary team, led by Forrec Ltd., who will carry out the planning of a new downtown area and report to Council at the end of the eight month process. During two public presentations, the need for such a process, and the process itself, was explained by the consulting team. The presentations drew a good number of interested citizens who enthusiastically supported them. As the purchase and operation of the seventeen buildings on Beach One dominated the first two years of Council`s agenda, the planning and development of a new downtown will dominate Council`s agenda over the next two years. As one member of Council I am a big supporter of a new downtown. However, I appreciate the amount of time and attention that the downtown process will take from both Staff and Council in the final two years of this Council. In providing that attention from both Staff and Council, I believe that it is imperative that we don`t lose site of the continued development of Beach One, and the creation of a profitable activity program for the site. It is for these reasons that during a Committee of the Whole meeting, that took place earlier this week, I advised Council that at the September Committee of the Whole meeting I will be presenting a Notice of Motion. The Motion will request the C.A.O. to bring forward a report to the Committee that Council give consideration to the establishment of a Board of Governors to be responsible for the maintenance, program planning, and the day to day operation of Beach One. The idea of a Board of Governors, or a Management Board, made up of the Mayor and one, or two, members of Council, plus four or five citizens, would tap a wealth of experience that exists in our community. The citizens would be appointed due to their past experience in one or more of the following fields: property management; entertainment; food service; trade show production; and tourism. It would also remove the day to day management of Beach One from the world of politics, that has hampered the decision making process since the Municipality has taken ownership of the site. The Management By-Law would still leave the elected Council in charge of the purchase and sale of land, approval of annual operating budgets, and the approval of contracts that would commit the Municipality over a set amount of time. No additional staff would be required to operate the facility. It would simply be a case of seconding whatever municipal staff that now “works the site” to the Board of Governors to continue their duties. The only difference would be is that staff would be located on-site at Beach One, and answer to the newly appointed Board. Using an old military phrase, they would answer to the Board but would remain Municipal employees when it came to “Pay and Rations.” The Board would perform their duties under a set of rules and regulations laid down by Council. The idea of a Federal, Provincial, or Municipal Government turning over the operation of a facility or service to a management board is not new. In my career I have served as Chairman of the O`Keefe Centre of the Performing Arts, which was owned by Metro Toronto Council, and Chief General Manager of Exhibition Place, also owned by the Metro Toronto Council. Both facilities thrived under an independent board. Under the Rules of Procedure governing Council, a member who wants to have Council consider a matter, must first present a Notice of Motion, stating the Motion, to the Committee, or Council meeting that would normally deal with such a Motion. The Motion would then be placed on the agenda of the next scheduled meeting of that Committee so that the item may be debated and voted upon. Once the decision of the Committee is ratified by Council, the subject matter is then put into practice. My specific motion is to call upon the C. A.O. to bring a report to Committee of the Whole, addressing the subject of establishing a Board of Governors to carry out the day to day operation of Beach One, for their consideration. The C.A O. will investigate the legality of such a move, as well as investigate the existing boards in other municipalities across the province, along with anything else that he feels will help Council in their consideration of such a decision. He then will report back to the Committee of the Whole who will take the matter on themselves. So, as you can see, a lot of thought and public debate will take place before a final decision is made, I believe that such a move is worthy of consideration.