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St. Marys Town Council: PRC lighting, municipal transit cleaning, Ontario Fire College, and downtown patios all discussed

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By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Several different noteworthy items were on the agenda at last Tuesday’s St. Marys Town Council meeting.

First on the agenda was a discussion with Doug LaPointe, Supervisor of Recreation Services, about a lighting upgrade at the Pyramid Recreation Center. The upgrades focus on changing fluorescent or incandescent lights to LED lights. Several lighting upgrades were made in Town facilities, including the PRC, last year as part of the approved annual Energy Efficiency Upgrades budget. Lights in the arena dressing room hallway and lobby area were replaced before the budget was fully allocated. LaPointe proposed continuing the work that began in 2020 and replace more lights in the PRC through the approved 2021 Energy Efficiency Upgrades budget. There are approximately 200 more fixtures to be replaced at a cost of around $23,000, which is just under half of the 2021 Energy Efficiency Upgrades $50,000 budget. However, an energy reduction rebate totaling $6,000 would bring the net cost of the project down to approximately $17,000. Douglas Electric did the work in 2020 at the PRC and they would be contracted again for the 2021 work given their familiarity with what has already been done. This was unanimously approved by the Council.

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Town Treasurer Andre Morin then spoke with the Council members regarding a proposed agreement with the Province of Ontario for enhanced cleaning measures for the St. Marys and Area Mobility Bus. According to Morin, the Town is eligible for up to $12,223, of which Town staff expects to use almost all. The proposal was brought to Council to get approval to execute a transfer payment agreement with the Province as part of obtaining the funding, which was approved unanimously.

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Next on the agenda was a correspondence from the Township of Baldwin requesting that the Province reconsider closing the Ontario Fire College. Fire Chief Andy Anderson joined the meeting for his monthly emergency services report and spoke on this letter. The Ontario Fire College has been active since 1949 before its permanent closure was announced earlier this year. There are 20 regional training hubs around Ontario, including one in Oxford County, which Chief Anderson said is where local firefighters are sent. Anderson also said that while St. Marys firefighters may be sent to a regional hub for locational convenience, it is inconceivable that any Province wouldn’t have a main Fire College. A resolution was unanimously approved by Council to support the Township of Baldwin’s correspondence pushing the Province to reconsider the Fire College’s closure.

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The last big subject discussed involved Jed Kelly from Public Works, who delivered a report on downtown street patios and sidewalk displays. Essentially, allowing the utilization of sidewalks and parking spaces for patios or displays increases restaurants and retail areas, and increases adherence to physical distancing measures. Additionally, such a program could help the Town’s tourism sector long-term if local cafes and eateries had outdoor patios. Town staff recommended that the Council delegate the authority to Public Works to review and approve applications for street patios and that staff bring forward a policy for permitting downtown street patios and sidewalk displays. This was approved unanimously by the Council.

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