City Notes: New paramedic chief, city rebranding, better snow removal, and more

By Kirk Winter

Council backs proposal to fund local improvement loans for businesses
Downtown Lindsay will see better snow removal this year. Photo: Erin Burrell.

A miscellany of 12 decisions taken by Kawartha Lakes City Council today:

Elmslie honours local volunteer 

Councillor Doug Elmslie congratulated Doug Cox for 50 years of community service to Fenelon Falls through his participation in the local Lion’s Club.

Dunsford Food Bank looking for your help 

Councillor Ron Ashmore encouraged local citizens to support the Dunsford Food Bank food drive that will be occurring from 2-4 p.m. the afternoon of Dec. 6. The drive-through food drop-off will occur in the parking lot of Dunsford United Church.

Support local Bobcaygeon businesses 

Councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan announced a socially distanced “Mingle and Jingle” weekend happening in downtown Bobcaygeon this weekend.  The councillor encouraged local residents to come out and support local businesses and restaurateurs.

Santa Claus parade in Coboconk 

Councillor Emmett Yeo announced that the Coboconk Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a “reverse” Santa Claus parade at Legion Park on December 6.  Local businesses and organizations are going to set up their displays in the park and families can drive by and enjoy the goings-on from the safety and warmth of their vehicle. There will be a treat bag for spectators at the end of this festive drive-by.

Councillor offers tribute to closed arena community/centre 

Deputy-Mayor Patrick O’Reilly took time to recognize and thank all the people involved with the building and operations of the Ops Arena which after 45 years the City, in a 5-4 vote, chose to close rather than refurbish as a senior staff report recommended.

O’Reilly said the building, imagined by Jack Callaghan and Murray Walden, was “more than an arena, it was the community hub” for a township whose biggest population centre is the village of Reaboro.

The arena served as a polling station, curling club, figure skating facility, meeting hall and arena that produced the likes of Don and Ron Maloney and Jeff Beukeboom who all went on to have successful professional careers in the NHL.

O’Reilly singled out the Ops Women’s Institute/Women’s Auxiliary for special mention for all the meals they have served over the years with the profit on the dinners being plowed back into the facility.

The councillor concluded his speech saying, “I hope for a better process moving forward (regarding closing other arenas in Kawartha Lakes).

CAO announces city rebranding 

CAO Ron Taylor announced an in-house rebranding project that will soon be rolled out on all of the city’s major media platforms.  Using the catchphrase “Jump In,” it is hoped the rebranding will stimulate not only tourism but industry and development in 2021.

One time paramedics’ money comes at a crucial time 

The Ontario East region received a onetime only top up from the government of Ontario of $2.8 million for paramedic services. Kawartha Lakes will receive $137,000.

“This money is coming at an extremely important time,” Taylor said, “and is sorely needed.”

The money locally will be put into the Community Paramedic Program which supports individuals being discharged from hospital to return home with visiting medical care.  The program has prevented many visits to emergency rooms by these individuals who are now being seen on a weekly basis by visiting paramedics in the home or apartment.

Paramedic’s chief retires 

After 35 years of service as a paramedic, with 18 of those years in Kawartha Lakes, paramedic Chief Andrew Rafton will retire on Nov. 27.

CAO Taylor and Mayor Andy Letham lauded Rafton for “his dedication and service to the city.”

New paramedic chief announced

Taylor told council that Randy Mellow will become the new paramedic chief in Kawartha Lakes, while keeping his position as paramedic chief in Peterborough.

“This new position will allow the two services to work together and learn from each other,” Taylor said.

Lindsay downtown to get better snow removal 

Mayor Andy Letham responded to a letter from Steve Podolsky, Vice-Chair of the Lindsay Downtown BIA board of Directors, regarding inadequate snow removal by proposing a pilot project for the winter of 2021.

Snow drifts will now be removed from the downtown when they reach .5 metres rather than .9 metres, and the city will more aggressively remove snow from back parking lots off Kent Street to allow for more retail parking to take place.

“I think we should do it for a year and investigate what additional costs we incur,” Letham said.

The plan was supported by Pat Dunn who “felt it was a good start” and favoured the year end review to “assess success”.

Council passed the pilot program unanimously.

Electronic Petitions options 

Councillor Ron Ashmore wanted to know from the city clerk what options the city looked at before deciding to use their “Jump In” platform to support the possibility of electronic petitions.

“We looked at the federal and provincial options currently available,” city clerk Cathy Rich responded. “We looked at the costs and what options might be the most user friendly and the “Jump In” platform incurs no additional costs for the city.”

Ashmore was concerned that the “Jump In” platform requires too many clicks to get users to where they need to be and suggested some changes that would make the petition option easier to find.

The clerk agreed with Ashmore’s concerns and fine tuning of the “Jump In” platform will be done.

Mayor Letham reminded councillors that paper petitions will still be accepted.

Consolidated Fees by-law sparks debate 

Ashmore expressed his concerns to council that there are too many new fee increases contained for Kawartha Lakes taxpayers in the new Consolidated Fees by-law.

This document contains the charges that individuals have to pay for items like building permits and other municipal documentation that the city needs to process.

“We are really heaping on the fees this year,” Ashmore said.

“I particularly find it wrong that some people can pay a $250 “rush fee” that will get their work expedited, “ Ashmore shared, “and that two-tiered fee schedule is wrong.”

Elmslie agreed with Ashmore suggesting that the “rush fee” option be removed.

The conversation was directed to CAO Taylor who told councillors that the “rush fee” only applies to real estate closings where the buyer has less than seven days to get documentation from the city, arrange financing and close the deal.

“The request actually came from real estate agents,” Taylor said, “and we are simply reacting to the wishes of the industry itself.”

Deputy-Mayor O’Reilly reminded council that the city has a business to run and that if fees are not collected council may not like the alternatives.

“If the industry wants it the industry should pay the fee,” Letham said.

In a recorded vote the fees schedule was approved 7-2 with the “rush fee’ intact with Ashmore and Elmslie opposing the by-law.

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