Rebound Owen Sound believes an informed citizenry will help the City become more resilient and sustainable. To that end, they offer this review of the last council meeting of the 2018 - 2022 term.  The new term begins today, with the swearing in of the new council at the Harmony Centre, followed by a reception. The public is more than welcome.

November 7, 2022. Note: Councillor Hamley was not in attendance.

Deputations/Presentations (not in order of delivery):

Kelsey Carriere President of Glassworks Affordable, Sustainable Cooperative Development Project
If you haven’t heard of Glassworks Cooperative, find out more here: https://www.glassworkscoop.com
Ms Carriere presented a fulsome introduction to her Co-op’’s housing initiative. Having raised the money within their own membership to purchase 46 acres of zoned industrial land, Glassworks is currently looking to council to approve rezoning of the subject land. Their pre-consultation application has been submitted to the Building Dept. Urban planner, Ms. Kelsey, points out that her project meets local and global sustainable development goals while a contributing funder of Glassworks, the Community Housing Transformation Centre which distributes CMHC funds, called the Glassworks vision “the future of housing” and lauded it as "the most exciting affordable housing project in Canada right now." The Plan looks to address the current crises of housing, climate and inequity with a Net Zero Carbon footprint while adding 300+ affordable housing units AND creating a model, sustainable community that will mark the City of OS as a leader in climate-attentive building/housing solutions. Glassworks includes over 100 employment opportunities as well as: residential areas with family-sized townhouses, tiny home clusters, a senior’s community, an apartment pavilion, and 9 acres of sustainable agriculture/community gardens. It's meant to be a complete community vision from childcare to food processing, providing co-working facilities and close proximity to transit and services. With so many examples of waived development fees and Glassworks asking for nothing but rezoning, it does make one wonder why Glassworks hasn't experienced much traction from council thus far. Stay tuned.

Grey County Housing Programs Manager: Josh Gibson
The County’s homelessness action plan identified goals for long term solutions as well as solutions for more urgent, short term needs. Mr. Gibson described what is called a Coordinated Access approach, (partnered with Bruce County) that aims to provide a user-friendly, less confusing, more effective process. Using a “Housing First” component that makes use of a crucial, By Name List (a real-time list of known and consenting homeless residents) and a matching/referral process, the goal is to hit Functional Zero where the number of people exiting homelessness exceeds or at least matches those entering into homelessness on a month to month basis. Coordinated Access, along with the 14th St Supportive Transitional Housing centre is intended to meet long term goals.
Immediate support however is the most pressing focus and for that, the County launched its Short Term Shelter Program (STSP) in Sept 2022. This program provides motel stays for individuals and families in immediate need and follows up with other housing opportunities as they become available. Through Josh’s deputation, we learned the importance of the expanded 211 program that has dedicated staff for afterhour needs, 24/7. It is important to note that during County business hours, folks can call 519 375 5744, text 226 407 4996 or email [email protected] for information or assistance. In the first 6 weeks of the STSP, the County has spent $85,000 (yikes!) which is an increase from under $40 thousand/month in previous years. Additionally, Safe N Sound’s hours have been extended throughout the coldest months until 10pm daily to assist with keeping our most vulnerable neighbours warm. The cost to fund this particular initiative is shared by the city and county to the tune of $25,000each. The City’s half will be drawn from the current year surplus funds.
Mayor Boddy pointed out that Grey County spent 24 million in 2021 on public housing ($92 per capita while the municipal average is typically $51per capita) and he acknowledged that homelessness is a hot topic amongst Owen Sounders.

Queen’s Park Community Bandstand presentation by Francesca Dobbyn
Francesca took pride in reminding the city and those in attendance that 10 years previous a community-led initiative raised funds and gathered support to rebuild the Queen’s Park Bandstand. (The bandstand has, as of late, been the subject of much discussion as the City opted to turn off the electrical outlets and close it to public access at night and in an effort to abate its use as a makeshift homeless shelter.) Ms. Dobbyn's presentation focused on the concept of “Place-making” which is a social process that integrates arts, culture and community development to improve the physical, social and economic well-being of our neighbourhoods. The bandstand was created as a means of addressing that goal. Beyond our homelessness concerns, the bandstand is a public space intended to support the need to gather together, find shelter if needed, reflect, and possibly plug-in something electrical!. The presentation concluded with a contemplation about the true measure of a town amounting to its people.

Application for zoning amendment #40 pertaining to 740 10th St W
A zoom presentation was made in regard to an application for zoning modification that would allow for the building of a low-rise, eight-unit, rental townhouse complex. The zoning is currently retail/commercial C2 allowing for an apartment building but not zoned for townhouses, hence the need for a zoning amendment. No permits have been pulled as of yet. These are considered to be two-person units and are not geared to income or affordability necessarily. In fact, no rental rate information was forthcoming at the time of the meeting

Among the issues council voted on was a proposal by Georgian College to install winter banners along 10th St from 4th Ave E to 2nd Ave W. GC noted that the college provides an important partnership to both the City and the County in developing skilled trades. The college will assume all associated costs. The vote was carried in support.

Council voted on a 3yr Draft Plan extension for Barry’s Construction development of Telfer Creek, a 34 acre property purchased last October just east of The Owen Sound hospital The Draft Plan approval was originally granted in 2019 to then-owner Bromont Homes and the approved extension will lapse in 2025 unless further extended. No shovels in the ground anytime soon!

Councillor Dodd reported on the high foot traffic count (over 12 thousand pedestrians!) in the River District over the summer months, the success of the Snowen Sound Frolics winter selfie event, and the decrease in downtown vacancies. The vacancy rate was 12% in 2021 and dropped to 10.3% - the lowest vacancy rate in a decade while the City’s social media reach has increased by 579%

Next up was a feisty discussion on models for funding public art. Councillor Greig expressed his concern about any tax increases for this purpose while Councillor Merton wondered about a collaborative fund-raising approach between the Tom Thomson Gallery and the City. Whereupon departing Councillor Thomas passionately detailed how this cost item is ALREADY funded by the public and accounted for in the proposed Municipal Accommodation Tax - 50% of which he says MUST be spent on tourism promotional opportunities. He concluded by encouraging the new council to at least have the “conversation” and not to discount the topic out of hand. The recommendation to keep the conversation to fund public art alive was carried.

The meeting was wrapped up with warm congratulations and fond farewells as the City of Owen Sound said thank you to departing Councilors and they, in turn, expressed their gratitude.

We await the inauguration of Council 2022 !

Council summary submitted by Rebound Owen Sound

Council Inaugural Meeting



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