council-may11-featby Anne Finlay-Stewart

Another long day for Council and City staff. From 1 to 4 they were meeting with the consultant to discuss the most recent draft of the city's Strategic Plan. After the mission and vision statements, the longest conversation was about the Financial Sustainability piece, including "diversifying revenue sources" and "reducing the city's footprint" which, according to former City Manager Ruth Coursey means decision making about the number and level of city-provided services. The other three "pillars" of the plan are Economic Prosperity, Environmental Integrity and Society and Culture.
Verbs got a lot of attention, mostly around how they might be interpreted by the public, and how success will be measured. Does "support" imply financial assistance? How will we measure progress in "encouraging ethnic/cultural groups"?

At 5:30 Council met in-camera to discuss six matters, including litigation, land disposition and personnel matters. In less than six months in office, this Council has surpassed the 45 matters discussed in-camera (behind closed doors) over the last ten months of the previous Council's last term. Yet another in-camera meeting will be held May 13.
Just for comparison, Meaford Council went in-camera only six times in 2014.

The regular meeting began, as advertised, without any prayer or silent reflection. A public meeting on this subject was the first order of business, and only one citizen spoke. A pastor and member of the area's Evangelical Ministerial Association, Harry Zantingh, told Council that he was disappointed by the decision to amend the procedural by-law, but that it would in no way interfere with the private and communal prayers offered regularly for the city's decision-makers.

council-feat-ap27by Anne Finlay-Stewart

Between the two-hour in camera meeting and the regularly scheduled main event, city councillors mingled with a few of the almost two hundred city volunteers who had gathered outside the council chamber for the annual appreciation event.

The regular meeting began with a moment of silent reflection, but likely for the last time. The city has received legal advice on the recent Supreme Court decision about prayer before municipal meetings and have decided to err on the side of caution and remove even silence from their agenda. As this represents a change in a procedural by-law, it requires a public meeting (May 11) and a new by-law (May 25).
The National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job is April 28, and will be recognized throughout Grey and Bruce. Representatives from the Labour Council and Public Health brought sobering details of the personal and economic impact of workplace injuries.
More details of quarterly First Friday events in downtown Owen Sound were brought to council, beginning with Fresh Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. May 2. The evenings are intended to enhance the customer experience in our downtown businesses with music, food, specials and other enticements.
Council approved Francesca Dobbyn's appointment to the DIA board until 2019 because maybe she was looking for something to do with all her leisure time.  Or wants to represent the folks who live above the stores.
The CP Rail station on the east side of the harbour is going to get some more attention in preparation for a long-term lessee. Some work will be city infrastructure – sewers and such – and some will be parking lot, landscaping and patio (makes you curious about the lessee, doesn't it?) the cost of which will be recovered over the term of the lease. The City's intention in buying the heritage train station from CP was always to find a tenant who would be a catalyst for further waterfront development.

by Anne Finlay-Stewart

nowhiring-featureThe City of Owen Sound is currently operating with less than a full roster of its key players. How this might affect our game remains to be seen.

The City, like all Ontario municipalities, is a "creature" of the province. Our governing documents were passed in the Legislature at Queen's Park - the Ontario Municipal Act, Planning Act, Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, etcetera. These are the rules by which we play, and the City Clerk is, in some respects, the linesman. In addition to many other detail-oriented tasks she, or he, is responsible for knowing the rulebook intimately and letting the players – both staff and elected officials – know if they are close toste pping out of bounds and risking penalties.

Our own highly-qualified City Clerk began an extended leave last fall after completing a year-long process culminating in an efficiently-run municipal election. Her position is held for her return. The Deputy Clerk became Acting City Clerk, but she too will be going on leave soon to welcome a new baby. The posting for that maternity leave is now closed to applications and according to Mayor Ian Boddy, the successful candidate will be assuming Acting City Clerk responsibilities.

The City Manager , known in some jurisdictions as the Chief Administrative Officer, (CAO) is responsible for "providing leadership and direction to the City administration while ensuring that the policies of City Council are effectively implemented." The City Manager is appointed by the Council itself, and is the only employee directly accountable to them. Every other manager, director and department, from the Fire Department to the Clerk, reports to the City Manager.

stolen-bike-one-featOvernight on Friday May 2nd, 2015 two sheds were broken into in Owen Sound. One was in the area of the 1200 block of 4th Avenue East, the locked shed was force opened and three mountain bikes were stolen. The value of the stolen bikes is estimated to be $6,500. Taken was a Rocky Mountain ETSX30, brown in colour, a Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC30 black in colour and a Schwinn MOAB lime green in colour. The other shed which as well was forced open was in the 1000 block of 4th Avenue East. Taken was several chainsaws, a compressor, angle grinder and an impact wrench.




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