COUNCIL UPDATE – February 09, 2016

Tom Mrakas

On Council’s agenda this week were two items of importance that have been ongoing since last term of Council and have finally come to a conclusion.

The first is the issue of that of awarding the RFP for a tennis bubble at the SARC. This has been ongoing since last term as there was back and forth as to the merits of the RFP for the “bubble”. The RFP before Council spoke to a “Bubble” that would be provided at no cost to the municipality. All costs would be carried by the proponent; thus, there would be no impact to the tax levy. This means, based on what was before us, that the proponent will be paying to build the facility, pay all operating expenses, will be paying the Taxes to the Town and they will also be paying a nominal fee for the lease. With the closing of Timberlane, the Town is underserviced as it speaks to Tennis facilities, certainly within the 2C lands. Approval of the bubble will see the provision of year round tennis facilities at no cost to the municipality. The motion to award the RFP passed on a recorded vote of 7-2 (Councillors Abel and Gaertner opposed). With the awarding of this RFP, our tennis community will have a place to play in time for next year’s fall and winter season. And, with addition of Tennis, we will have a complex (SARC) that will be even more active than it is now.

The other item we dealt with was the Tree protection bylaw. This bylaw has been debated and revamped a number of times over the course of the past two terms of council. It appears, however, that after this past debate, the matter of the tree protection bylaw has finally come to a close. While the end result was not exactly what some members (myself included) wanted I believe we now have a bylaw that we can all accept and thus move forward.

While a number of elements of the by-law were changed, the one sticking point was that of exemption of Golf courses from the bylaw. As I have stated previously, I do not believe that golf courses should be completely exempt from the by-law. However, at the same time, I would not want to make things restrictive on or punitive for the golf industry given their important role in maintaining green space within the municipality. Despite attempts at some form of compromise, the first part of the motion remained as is – which would keep golf courses entirely exempt – and this passed 6-3 ( Councillor Gaertner, Humfryes and myself opposed).

I made an amendment that staff report back with strategies on how the municipality can work together with the golf industry in developing partnerships and incentive programs aimed at planting trees on golf course lands. Given that the Town has just approved the urban forest study and the tree management plan and compensation policy, I think it is worthwhile to consider partnerships and incentive programs with golf courses within the context of these new important Town plans. (this passed unanimously) Staff will report back at a later meeting on opportunities that can be explored. I will be looking forward to that report.

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