Council Recap: July 17, 2019

Well, if you weren’t in attendance at last week’s Council meeting, you missed a lot of excitement! And if you didn’t get a chance to read the preview, you can do that here.

Council started at 17:00 (5pm) and went into a closed session immediately. After handling most of the matters up for debate, we came out into public session just before 18:00, at which point we resumed.

Court of Revision

Mayor DeViet, Deputy Mayor Brennan, and I sat as Court of Revision. The engineer was not there to present their report since they didn’t anticipate any comments at this time, and in fact there were none. We voted to approve the Schedule of Assessments and the drainage works, and close Court of Revision. This drain now goes to full Council, likely at the August meeting, for final approval.

Delegations, Presentations & Petitions

Dr. Howard, of the Middlesex Centre Family Medicine Clinic (MCFMC), and Dr. Wetmore, from Western University, appeared before Council to ask us to forgive the municipal back taxes owing on the building, currently amounting to over $53,000. The Doctors’ case was more or less as follows:

  • The medical centre provides a vital service to the community. True.
  • The Southwest Middlesex Health Centre (SMHC) pays drastically reduced property taxes. True.
  • The Doctors applied to MPAC for status as an educational institution, which is how the SMHC operates and is classified by MPAC, but MPAC denied the re-classification (we’ll get to this).
  • Property taxes are a huge, financial burden on the Doctors. I would argue this is false.

Council appeared to be largely unsympathetic. Why? Because through a series of questions and answers we discovered the following:

  • The SMHC operates in a corporate model where all the revenue flows to the Board of Directors, who then pays all the bills and salaries. This is not the case for MCFMC, where the Doctors retain the revenues and are then paying the bills, possibly affording them much higher salaries.
  • MCFMC’s Board of Directors has rejected moving to this model in the past, and that is why MPAC will not re-classify the building as an educational institution, despite its connection to Western University and the Schulich School of Medicine there.
  • The full rent being paid, including property taxes, amounts to a highly competitive $22.34 per square foot. This is in comparison to other buildings, already zoned for medical purposes, where the all-in rent (net plus common space) ranges from $28 over $39 per square foot.
  • Council previously wrote off the property taxes owing several years ago, at which point the Board of Directors promised to pay the property taxes going forward. They have yet to do so.

In the end, Council voted to receive the information, and hold off on making any further decisions until the MCFMC Board did, in fact, make changes to their corporate structure, which Dr. Howard said they had decided to do at the last meeting (they had not done this, as attested to by several members of Council and staff who were at that board meeting).

Brendan Wraith then appeared before Council, on behalf of the Ilderton-Lucan Minor Baseball Association, to ask that the #1 diamond at Heritage Park be renamed Rudy Godwin Field. After a very brief discussion, Council approved the request and our Community Services staff will work with Brendan and the baseball association to ensure our documentation reflects the change, and appropriate signage and/or a plaque is placed.

Consent Agenda

Deputy Mayor Brennan recognized that June set a blistering pace for building permits, and Arnie Marsman agreed that things were brisk! Afterwards Council voted to receive all the reports.

Staff Reports

  • The Ilderton Community Improvement Program grants were approved. I discovered that the CFDC (Business Help Centre) is moving from Egremont Drive into Ilderton’s downtown, which will hopefully serve residents’ needs more easily at this location.
  • The Poplar Hill & Heritage Park Playground Equipment RFP Results were approved.
  • The motion to repair the driveway at 46 Woodlily Lane in Ilderton was approved, along with considering amending the related by-law. I voted against this because I can imagine the litany of requests and number of interpretations that could result from this, especially in light of similar requests in the past.
  • Councillor Heffernan and Councillor Scott were appointed to the budget committee.
  • By a very slim 4-3 margin, the motion to hire a Fire Prevention & Training Officer, seal a service sharing agreement with North Middlesex, and work with Strathroy-Caradoc was passed.
    • I won’t go into a lot of the details (live streaming can’t come fast enough!), but I’m very happy that Chief Toth will finally get some assistance after his initial request for the creation of a Deputy Fire Chief position was shelved for 6 months near the beginning of the year. In fact, that issue will be coming back soon as we hit the 6 month mark, but now it should be less of a concern.
  • The last three items were all approved as recommended.

Public Meetings

We discovered shortly before 19:00 that there was a large contingent of people waiting outside Council Chambers for the Renwick Estates meeting. So staff went to set up the Coldstream Community Centre down the hall to ensure there was enough room for everyone, along with a projector, screen, and microphones. In the meantime, we proceeded with other public meetings.

We were able to get the Renwick Estates public meeting started around 19:15 with roughly 50 people in attendance. I have a summary of the comments made, person by person:

  • Paul Houghton
    • The rest of the property (not part of the application or settlement area) is hard to develop because of railway tracks
    • Negatives for existing residents
    • Flawed traffic study
    • Unnecessary new zoning
    • No park/play space for children
    • Apartment too close to tracks causing vibration, stigma
    • Stormwater concerns; MXC should ask for increased security deposits in case things go badly
    • Urban sprawl, focus growth on area between Komoka and Kilworth
    • No immediate need for more housing
  • Mark Muscutt
    • Swale behind his home
    • Tree growing in middle of ditch at Union & Komoka, ditch not being cleaned out
    • UTRCA didn’t have level of control when Union Ave development was approved that they have now
    • Who approved Union Ave subdivision, drainage plan, etc?
  • Jennifer Jackson
    • Swale filling up 3 to 4 times per year is low estimate
    • Official plan says development can’t damage people or property
    • Traffic
  • Jim St. John
    • No hydro geological study; Walmart in Strathroy caused major issues
  • Jane Campbell
    • Invited Anglers Association
    • Does not support
    • Need to protect farmland as per OFA
    • OFA booklet from last fall, refer to page 5
    • OMAFRA has guidelines for development on prime ag land
    • OMB denied application in 1979
    • Schedule A-2 in official plan very sparse
    • Former Coun. Ward 4 and former Clerk questioned above in 2017
    • Noise pollution affects animals and people
    • Noise assessment includes reasons for clauses on title (only 6 sources don’t)
    • No confidence that stormwater management plan in adequate
    • Flawed water capacity numbers
    • No mention of Komoka Creek outlet
  • Rosalyn (Rosalind?)
    • Asked Council for current position; I said I have many hesitations, Coun. Scott said he couldn’t support if asked to vote today
  • Denise Pallister
    • Stormwater
    • Traffic; find ways to slow it down
    • School boundaries, capacity
      • I had a light bulb go off and sent an email to one of our TVDSB trustees earlier in the evening
  • Rob Huber
    • Here on behalf of Anglers’ Association
    • Want to move to Komoka, but not this neighbourhood
    • Lots of fish in Komoka Creek, AA operates hatchery
    • UTRCA didn’t tell us about this meeting sooner
    • Won’t back down, getting provincial and federal ministries involved
    • Once drain is installed, fish are screwed/won’t come back
    • Fish that spawn wild, come back each year
    • Salt spills across 5 SWM ponds in Hyde Park still end up in creek
  • Heidi McColl
    • Swale on two sides of her home
    • Doesn’t support this proposal
    • Existing issues should be resolved first
    • Maintain swale on own time and expense; staff should take over
    • Mentioned the 7′ tree growing in ditch
    • Repaired northern fence after it fell down; former PWE Director Lima said it was homeowners’ responsibility
    • Traffic, Union Ave shouldn’t be through street
  • Walter Ferguson
    • No homes should have been built to west of his on Union Ave, “everyone” said it was green space and couldn’t be built on
    • MoE charged thousands of dollars to study protecting woodland vole over small proposed changes
    • Driving over tracks really bumpy; adding more traffic will make it worse
      • N.B. This is the responsibility of the railway companies to maintain, not the municipality
    • Vince (Union Ave developer) got permission to move ditch away from his property
    • Not seeing sidewalks or cycle paths
      • N.B. It’s common not to see details like these in an official plan or zoning by-law amendment; these types of details come later in the process
  • Christina Tischler
    • Lack of green space/park, cannot use Parkview School’s after hours
    • Bad place for an apartment building
    • Speed, traffic, many people ignore STOP sign on Oxbow at Komoka
    • Light pollution
    • Lack of trees on drawings
      • N.B. Again, this is expected at this stage. A landscaping plan is typically attached later in the process and reviewed by staff to ensure it adheres to the municipality’s urban design standards.
    • Sprawl, fill between Komoka & Kilworth instead
    • Noise pollution on animals
    • Asked for privacy fence behind existing homes at open house in March
    • How will swale construction affected existing mature trees on properties already fronting Komoka Rd?
  • Lucy Gravelle
    • Her home was zoned ag, re-zoned environmental in early 1980s
    • Gravel pit went to OMB, lost appeal but no asphalt smell at her home
    • If creek is dredged, wildlife will be lost
  • Sue Cates
    • Need for different types of housing
    • Bungalows would be better
  • Mary Payne
    • Why apartment building at edge of town?
    • Stormwater concerns
    • Existing ditch is disgusting, concerned new swale could end up similarly
  • Jan Shirkey (sp?)
    • Speed of traffic; some going 90 kph by my house
  • David Harman
    • This development will eliminate Frank Drain
    • Detailed design for SWM pond to Oxbow Creek Drain yet to be done, as per AGM
  • Despina Oosterhoff
    • No crossing guard when we lived on Fieldstone Cres
    • Unsafe for kids, wouldn’t let kids cross Oxbow to school; better situation now
    • Kids living on Prince St get driven to school because parents feel crossing Oxbow is unsafe

Council then got a chance to ask some questions. I got the following questions and answers in:

  • Q1: What feedback did you get at the open house in March, and what changes did you make to address it?
  • A1: Most of the comments were around stormwater, so we made the swale bigger to accommodate more flows.
  • Q2: Why propose a 5-storey apartment building on the edge of town? What’s the rationale for this location?
  • A2: It confirms with MXC’s official plan. Amenities are nearby (no they aren’t). There’s a need for other types of housing.
  • Q3: Anticipated demographics for the apartment building?
  • A3: Some retirees, some younger individuals and couples.
  • Q4: There’s a 1.752 m³/sec difference in the pre-development stormwater flows and post-development stormwater flows. Where does that extra water go?
  • A4: It fills up the SWM, which then lets water is more slowly once it’s full.

Council voted to receive the information. The other public meeting items up for discussion were all approved or granted.

And that’s that for last week’s Council meeting! If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know.