The Auditors for The Town of Orangeville were in Council Chambers on Monday to present a report on the 2014 financials for the Town of Orangeville. Overall, the report contained good news that over the last few years (2012-2014), the financials have improved with debts being reduced slightly and reserves increasing slightly. The presentation included a slide that contained overall comments on the highlights of the Town Performance that stated:
- Significant operating deficit that needs to be funded
- Need to work on continuing to build up reserve balances
- Need to budget, manage and monitor cash and net debt position
Councillor Bradley expressed how happy she was with this presentation. “I’m very pleased that we had such positive results as a result of all the hard work of our staff, council and all of the employees of the Town of Orangeville.” “I’m glad to see the auditors make the comment that we need to continue to build up our reserves.” Councillor Wilson said, “To me that confirms what a few of us were trying to say during this springs’ budget discussions. It’s been confirmed by the people that we employ, engage to review our statements and I think we would be well advised to heed those comments when we get into our budget.”
Hopefully these comments about the Town’s financial performance will remain top of mind when entering 2016 budget talks.
Fire Master Plan
Orangeville Town Council was HOT, HOT, HOT on Monday, July 13th with the HOT topic being FIRE. Consultants from TL Powell & Associates presented the Town with an Official Fire Plan that included 55 recommendations for Orangeville to consider going forward to improve our Fire Department and the safety of Orangeville residents. These recommendations include, but are not limited to, the rebuilding and relocation of the Fire Department as well as increasing Fire Department Personnel by going to a 7/24 model which would mean adding 10 full-time and 5-volunteer positions. The current Fire Station is located in a flood plain and restricts additions or changes to the building and doesn’t properly house the apparatus’ that the department has.
The need to increase the Fire Department personnel is due to a study that was done on ‘After-Hours’ Response times to calls which as you can see in the chart below, fail to meet the Response Times standards that are put in place by the NFPA (National Fire Prevention Association)
For now, the information has been received by council.
After the last council meeting, social media exploded with opinions about backyard burning bylaws. Regardless of what their opinions are, residents are passionate about the topic!
Monday night council heard from a couple of residents wanting the Town of Orangeville to ban all outdoor wood burning stating they are “prisoners in their homes” due to wood burning at homes near their properties. Members of Council all had their own opinions as well. “God love you if you want to sit in the back and set fire to stuff and roast marshmallows, but what about the 100 other people breathing that smoke and frankly ruining their weekend? I can’t get that part out of my mind.” Mayor Williams said “How much freedom do you give people to do what they want in their backyard versus how much do you respect peoples’ right to breathe?”
Councillor Bradley suggested establishing a committee to further investigate this issue and to provide Council with recommendations. Councillor Bradley proposed that this committee would include a member of council, the Fire Chief, a by-law officer, a member from OSAT as well as 3 public members. Councillor Wilson was not in support of any further discussion about this topic and said “We’re going too far if we’re trying to tell people that they can’t have a backyard fire, that they can’t have a wood-burning device in their house, they can’t have a fireplace. I think we’re going down the wrong road on this.”
Councillor Kidd is adamantly against outdoor wood-burning and said “For people to say that we should allow wood-burning fire pits in backyards, I would think that most of them haven’t had the pleasure of living beside one. I have had the pleasure of living beside one. I have had the pleasure of having to close my windows.”
So, the vote on the creation of a new committee to look into this was called and passed with only Councillor Wilson voting against it. If you are interested in giving your input as one of the public members of this committee, send an email to the Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Now its time for MY humble opinion about this topic. I am definitely sympathetic to those who struggle with medical conditions that make breathing in smoke of any kind difficult. However, the creation of a bylaw that will prevent residents from burning wood safely in their backyards is opening an entire can of worms that the town and tax payers are not prepared for. The residents who are following the proper procedure of getting a fire permit, having the Fire Department do the home inspection and following the guidelines from the fire department on what can and can’t be burned are NOT the residents who are creating the problems. The residents who DON’T follow the current fire permit rules are the ones having illegal (and very smoky) fires. Do you as tax payers understand fully just how many nuisance calls the fire department will receive if wood-burning is banned?? Are you prepared to pay for that?? For the love of backyard fires everywhere, just be a respectful neighbour. Call the Orangeville Fire Department at (519) 941-3083 to get your burn permit for $20.
I know this is a HOT topic so I want your input? What do you think about wood burning? And will you considering giving your input by sitting on this new committee??