If you were looking for a cab on Monday night, you may have had a long wait…the gallery in Council Chambers was full of cab drivers past and present looking to weigh in on the ‘Taxi & Limousine’ by-laws that currently exist in Orangeville. Currently the Town of Orangeville licences taxis and there are a limited number of licences available based on the population of the Town (there are currently 28 licences in The Town of Orangeville). If a newcomer comes to Orangeville and wishes to provide taxi service, the process is currently that due to the fact that all taxi licences are spoken for, the newcomer would be put on a waiting list and if another licence comes available, they would be then given the opportunity to purchase that licence.
To be honest, I didn’t realize that there was such an issue with this by-law until recently on Social Media when a number of complaints have arisen…I know that there is an issue on a Saturday night getting a cab at bar closing time, but I didn’t realize that the issue went deeper than that. There appears to be a monopoly on taxi licences with the current issued licences being 18 to Call-A-Cab, 9 to Orangeville Taxi and 1 to Dufferin Taxi and there have been accusations made that the local cab companies have some of those cars parked…holding the licences and not utilizing the vehicle that is registered to that licence. The point was made that by changing the system to allow anyone who meets the requirements to purchase a licence instead of limiting the number of licences allowed, that it would then allow for some healthy competition in the market which would in turn give residents options to get better service. After a long public delegation and a closed meeting, council decided to form a committee to look at the current licensing process in The Town of Orangeville to consider different options. The committee will be comprised of 5 public members and will have the support of the Town’s Building & By-Law Dept as well as the Orangeville Police Service. There will also be public open houses scheduled with the hopes that citizens can come out to share information and state their concerns. Will you attend these public meetings to weigh in?
Newton Drive…to pave or not to pave, that is the question…
As part of the 2015 budget process, there were some road projects that made the cut, and some that didn’t make the cut. Decisions were made to resurface the roads on Highland Drive and Morgandale, while Newton Drive and Rustic Cres didn’t make the cut. At council on Monday, there were a number of residents of Newton Drive present to ask Council to please resurface Newton Drive now instead of waiting to see if it makes the cut on the 2016 budget. Before I go any further, I must tell you that I do have a conflict of interest with this topic seeing as how I too am a resident of Newton Drive.
With that being said, I have first hand understand of why the residents were upset about not making the cut. The resurfacing project began on Highland Drive a few weeks ago, and for those who aren’t familiar with the area, see the map below. The residents who were present to discuss the issue were the residents who live at the top half of Newton, closest to the current paving happening at Highland Dr. Now our road is BAD…and I mean BAD!!! And now our road has become a through-road for all of the construction vehicles…so its going from bad to worse.
There was hesitation from Council about this resurfacing project being completed now as the money was not allocated to this project in the 2015 budget. After much discussion about where the money would come from, even the dreaded word ‘reserves’ was used, Council eventually did agree to complete the project now using any surplus funds from the budget and paying the rest from reserves with the guarantee that that money would be top priority to go back into reserves with 2016 budget deliberations fast approaching. The motion was lead by Deputy Mayor Maycock and seconded by Councillor Wilson and was almost unanimous with only Councillor Campbell voting against it…and not because she is against the project, but due to the fact that reserves were such a sore spot in Council during the 2015 budget that she fears this will create more issues in the 2016 budget.
Costing for 9-1-1 services
Now this has been a hot topic inside Council Chambers both at this meeting as well as at the previous meeting that was held on Monday, August 10th, 2015 at which Councillor Wilson put forward a motion requesting that the Police Chief, in collaboration with the Treasury and HR departments bring forward a cost and feasibility report on using the OPP’s 9-1-1 services in lieu of the current system in which Orangeville Police Service currently maintain the 9-1-1 dispatch service. At the Aug 10th meeting, discussion heated up as Mayor Williams deemed that this motion was not proper as Council is not at liberty to direct the Chief of Police and that this request must be filtered through the Police Service Board (PSB), of which Mayor Williams is the Chair. As a bit of back story, the request for this costing was brought forward by Councillor Wilson initially at the beginning of 2015 during budget deliberations, and there has still not been any answer or report given. After a lot of frustration, Councillor Wilson’s motion was lost but he did put forward a notice of motion that he would be rephrasing and bringing this back up at the meeting on September 14th.
Item 10.2 on the agenda was a memo from The Police Services Board that was received as an information item stating:
Item 13.1 was the new motion from Councillor Wilson that read :
Tempers were starting to flare again as the discussion went on with Councillor Campbell stating that she will not be supporting the motion as this is the responsibility of the PSB to deal with and Councillor Kidd stating a similar feeling. Councillor Wilson went on record stating “It is only through cooperation of the staff of the Town and the Police Chief and his resources that we will be able to analyze the costing proposal from the OPP for 9-1-1 services. We spend over a million dollars through the police budget on communications.” He went on to say “We don’t know if there is any opportunity to save money because it has not been analyzed by the people who can do it. It seems quite reasonable to me that we ask the two groups to work together to give us a report.” Councillor Wilson referred to the upcoming budget process and wants to ensure that while Council is looking for nickels and dimes to save in 2016 he questions how they can make accurate decisions about cost savings without all of the information. Mayor Williams got on the defensive and quickly referred to the memo from the PSB stating that they are looking into it and stated “It’s almost as if you’re not really interested in finding out that they are looking into it… no, that’s not good enough…you want it looked at in your way.” Mayor Williams went on to state that we all want to be able to provide exemplary services at a reasonable cost and that the PSB is currently reviewing a number of options. Councillors Wilson, Bradley and Deputy Mayor Maycock were all in favour of the motion, while Councillors Campbell, Kidd, Garisto and Mayor Williams were against. Motion fails.
Now, I am not sure why asking for costs of things has flared such tempers. In my humble opinion, it is fiscally responsible to be prepared for the upcoming budget talks by having all of the information necessary to do what is best for the Town of Orangeville…and what is best for our tax payers pockets! I will preempt this by saying that I am not an avid supporter of the OPP nor do I think that moving our 9-1-1 services to the OPP is the best decision. But how can we be sure if we don’t have all of the information?? And how can we become more informed if no one is willing to compile and share the information? I am extremely happy with the way that Chief Kalinski and the PSB have worked together to make wonderful changes to the way that the Orangeville Police Service is run and I agree with Mayor Williams that we do provide exemplary 9-1-1 services here in Orangeville and I agree with Councillor Wilson that Council has waited long enough for information on this matter. However, watching the defensiveness portrayed by multiple parties inside council chambers, I am beginning to question whether there are conflicts of interest occurring within our Council that are causing decisions to be made more by personal interests rather that fiscal responsibility.
I would love to hear your opinions on this…