In the interest of addressing questions raised by residents, two votes made at last night’s General Committee meeting warrant comment and/or clarification.
The first vote concerned a decision to send an application to rebuild a house (60 Fleury St.) that had burned to the ground, to the Heritage Committee for comment.
The homeowner of 60 Fleury Rd submitted an application to demolish their burnt down home and construct a new one. This Aurora family lost all their belongings in a fire over a year ago and has been working with insurance, designers, and heritage planners to rebuild their home. (The picture is of the rebuild.) As evidenced in the staff report, the proposed plan to rebuild complied with the Heritage District Plan of the Town – all design and building features, right down to the bricks on the house – meet the Heritage District Plan’s guidelines and planning requirements.
Unfortunately, Council in the majority decided that rather than make a decision on the application before us, that the application should be sent to the Heritage Committee for their comments first. This despite Council members being aware that as the Heritage Committee was just formed that same night, there would not even be a meeting of the Heritage Committee until May. By referring the application to the Heritage Committee, it would have the effect of delaying the family’s rebuilding process by at least 1-2 months.
I along with Councillors Kim and Thompson believed that Council should make a decision that night, and approve the application to allow this family – that has been without a home for over a year – to start the process to rebuild. Unfortunately, the other members of Council did not agree. And, on a motion by Councillor Weese, voted instead to refer the application to the Heritage Committee. This motion passed with a 4-3 vote. (Councillors Weese, Gilliland, Gallo and Gaertner in favour of the referral to the Heritage Committee.)
Later that evening, under New Business, Councillor Thompson proposed to refer the additional report that staff had been tasked to write on finding creative solutions for pickleball courts to the Parks and Rec Committee. (Residents will note that a strategy to address the growing sport of pickleball is already included in the soon to be released Master Sport and Recreation Plan; this report comes to Council in just a few weeks.)
Councillor Thompson argued that if Councillors believed that advisory committees should always provide comments before making a decision, then the Parks and Rec committee should also provide comments on Pickleball first before Council considers any decision. The motion to refer the report to the Parks and Rec Committee failed on a 4-3 vote with Councillors Weese, Gilliland, Gaertner and Gallo against referring the report to an advisory committee for comment. The general reason expressed around the table being that, apparently, waiting for over a month for the new committee to meet was too long of a wait for a review of a report on Pickleball.
If I understand the reasoning for the two decisions of Council in the majority then, it seems that getting an Aurora family closer to getting back into their home is NOT urgent, but getting a report on Pickleball IS urgent.
While I respect a Councillors right to decide how they see fit, I share resident’s concerns about the potential impact of the decision to refer the application to an advisory committee that will not even meet until May. I am saddened at the thought that it could delay the rebuilding of this family’s home by months.
As this was GC, it is not a final decision. All decisions still need to be ratified by Council. I will keep residents informed as to the final outcome on the decision regarding this application and whether an Aurora family can begin the process to rebuild their home or not.