Ward 4 News

Councillor - Christine Billings

Tuesday Mar 19th - 2013

March 18th, 2013:

What do you think of this email and my response below Guelph? Should this program or other city programs be more subsidized by the taxpayers at a greater rate?

Your comments are always appreciated:

 

Original Email:

From: O
Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2013 06:02 PM
To: Mayors Office
Cc: Cam Guthrie
Subject: seniors strenght training programs
 
Mayor Karen Farbridge,       
I am a senior citizen currently a member of evergreen seniors centre and currently registered to take the strength training at the seniors centre. I wish to complain of the costs to seniors who are on a fixed income.  More would benefit and want to
Take the course twice a week but can’t afford it.  The cost is higher than other fitness centres. It is an excellent benefit to the health of seniors and should be subsidized by the City of Guelph. We have paid our dues in all our working  years and now should be helped.  Healthy seniors must benefit other areas of city expenses.
Please reply with your comments.
Thank you.

O.

 

My Response:
From: Cam.Guthrie@guelph.ca [mailto:Cam.Guthrie@guelph.ca]
Sent: March-19-13 12:32 AM
To: O; Mayor@guelph.ca; Cam.Guthrie@guelph.ca
Subject: Re: seniors strenght training programs

Hi O,

I appreciate you sending me your email. I'm sorry it took me a while to respond, but I'm sure you can understand due to the impact of our city's tragic loss of Const. Jennifer Kovach.
The city reviews its program fees every couple of years. I'm sorry that you, and possibly others feel the pricing could be too high.
You've asked for my comments about this situation but I believe I can answer your question by stating what you actually wrote to me within your email.
You stated that "the cost is higher than other fitness centers". I believe in limited government and the freedom of individual choice. Therefore you, I and all residents of Guelph can choose to use city run programs or not use city programs. If a private enterprise can offer you better rates or better service than it would make more sense to frequent and support that establishment then to prop up a bloated government program that is usually already subsidized by the collective tax payers. In fact, I wish there were less government programs like this that compete against the free market especially when its proven, even as you stated, that they can provide the same service for a better price.
I hope you can respect my thoughts on this and if you need anything else please let me know.
Take care,
Cam Guthrie

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

Good Morning,
 
I have been requested to share the following response I prepared to comments we have received on the CSS-CESS-1312 - Youth Strategy Report. Please be in touch if you have any additional questions or comments

The purpose of the report was not to outline all of the ways that the recommendations can be linked and aligned to existing work but rather to show what youth and youth service providers are interested in. A more detailed implementation  plan with resource requirements, timelines, KPIs etc can be developed once staff have a sense that they are headed in the right direction. The use of the term “endorsement” is intended to signal this rather than open ended direction for staff to pursue  recommendations without further planning, projections or budget.

The recommendations of the 2013-18 Youth Strategy are the amalgamation of the thoughts and feedback of 700 members of  Guelph’s youth population. The recommendations do not reflect the voice of one individual or smaller group but the sentiment of the collective. The recommendations were drafted and reviewed independent of each other and do not speak to the potential (and expected) connectivity between themes or recommendations. Through the process of collecting data and generating themes/recommendations, many of the young people involved expressed great interest in supporting the work of the Strategy and are enthusiastic to continue their involvement. The development of the 2013-18 Youth Strategy is based in the 10 Principles of Authentic Community Engagement as published by KnowledgeWorks Foundation and as detailed in these principles, encourages and supports sustained involvement from community stakeholders, in our case Guelph youth and youth stakeholders.

The 2013-18 Youth Strategy speaks directly to the Guelph’s youth community and has been drafted to complement existing and developing City Strategies and Initiatives. Each goal connects directly to Guelph’s Corporate Strategic Plan and Community Wellbeing Initiative and is based in best practice and/or successful implementation in other communities. The recommendations are intended as a starting point and each is given an appropriate timeline to investigate, adapt, build, partner and implement. City staff are expected to guide the process but will rely on community involvement, wisdom, resources and support to see each recommendation to fruition

Barbara Powell  |General Manager of Community Engagement
Community Engagement and Social Services Liaison  
Community and Social Services
City of Guelph

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

This by-law would allow By-law Compliance and Guelph Police officers to address unwanted behaviour and minor offences quickly and cost-effectively—without laying criminal charges.

The City has updated the draft by-law based on feedback from 130 community members and removed sections related to regulating public protests, rallies, and distributing handbills. All the changes, as well as other considerations made, are documented in the summary report attached to the Operations Transit and Emergency Services staff report. Click here to read the report.

Upcoming committee and City Council meetings
The final draft by-law and staff report will be presented to:

Operations, Transit and Emergency Services Committee
Monday, March 18 at 5 p.m.
City Hall, 1 Carden Street
City Council
Monday, March 25 at 7 p.m.
Council Chambers, City Hall, 1 Carden Street
Register as a delegation
If you wish to voice concern and/or support for the final draft public nuisance by-law, please register as a delegate to speak or provide written comments to either or both the OTES Committee meeting (registration deadline: Friday, March 15 at 4 p.m.) or the City Council meeting (registration deadline: Monday, March 25 at 12 noon). For more information or to register, contact the City Clerk’s office at 519-837-5603 or clerks@guelph.ca.

For more information about the public nuisance by-law, please click here, visit guelph.ca > city hall > bylaws & policies > draft bylaws or call the By-law Compliance Office at 519-837-2529.

Regards,

Doug Godfrey
Manager, Bylaw Compliance and Security Department
Operations, Transit and Emergency Services
T 519-822-1260 x 2520
E doug.godfrey@guelph.ca

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

Good Morning:

Please find the attached Construction Notice for Howitt Creek Flood Protection and Watercourse Renaturalization (formerly Lafarge Property) – East of Howitt Creek. The City has hired Hermanns Contracting Limited to undertake construction, to start after March 15th and expected to end in approximately September. A Project Open House was held on June 19th, 2012.

The project is an outcome of the OMB Minutes Settlement between the City, Howitt Park Neighbourhood Association and Silvercreek Guelph Developments for the development of the Silvercreek Lands.

The land for the flood protection and renaturalization works is being transferred to the City by Silvercreek Developments and the flood protection measures will address the storm drainage from built up areas to the north of the subject lands. The flood protection area will be landscaped and will incorporate a multi-use trail system.  
This notice will be hand-delivered to businesses and local residents in the area and advertised on the City Page in the Guelph Tribune as well as posted on guelph.ca/construction.
If you have any further questions, please contact Mr. Majde Qaqish at ext. 2225.
Kindest Regards,

STAFF

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

Some Q&A from STAFF:

 

Q: why is the bylaw being introduced now?

A number of situations have been encountered over past few years where staff have found we didn't have the necessary 'tools' to deal with them effectively or expeditiously.  The conversation evolved to the point staff had a number of reasons for such a bylaw and the initiative was launched.

Q: Did the City review similar bylaws from other Cities?

Yes

Q: there is confusion on the penalty amounts identified in the bylaw. Are we really going to charge thousands of dollars for nuisance infractions?

The penalties in the bylaw meet the requirements of the Provincial Offenses Act. These are prescribed fine ranges that the Court may impose on an individual/Corporation who has been summoned to appear for a violation of the bylaw. However, most infractions will be dealt with through the issuance of Provincial Infraction Notice (ticket) which carries a set fine amount. The set fine amounts are generally in the low hundreds and is attached to the report.  Should Council approve the bylaw, a request to approve the Set Fine amounts will be issued to the Chief Magistrate.

Q. Can you give an example of 'interfering' with a permitted event?

It could range from someone occupying a sports field preventing a permitted game to occur to someone interfering with a special event.

Q. Would that include protests?

Yes.  The violation would be for interfering, not protesting.

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

From STAFF:

Dear Mayor Farbridge and Members of City Council:

As you know, Guelph is a great place to visit. Our community is filled with music, arts and culture events, history and heritage, unique shopping and dining experiences, and outstanding sports and recreation facilities. It is important that the community is well supported and represented by effective Tourism initiatives and programs. This month, in support of Council’s direction regarding a request for proposals (RFP) for Tourism services, the City is hosting a community consultation session:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
River Run Centre
4-6 p.m.

The purpose of the session is to gather community input to develop a new vision for tourism in Guelph—we’ll focus on what services should be offered and delivered. The feedback will be used to inform the development of a request for proposals to identify a new community partner(s).  The City has invited tourism partners, agencies, community organizations, and individuals—people who organize and participate in local and regional tourism activities—to come and share their ideas for promoting Guelph to potential visitors. You are welcome to attend the session and listen to these community discussions first-hand. Please encourage interested folks to come out and participate.

After considering all proposals, staff will report its findings to City Council and make a recommendation regarding the provision of Tourism Services in Guelph. Until then, the City's Tourism Services department will continue promoting Guelph to visitors using promotional tools and activities which do not incur any additional costs for the corporation.

If you have any questions about the community consultation session, please contact me directly.

Best wishes. Colleen

Colleen Bell, Executive Director
Community & Social Services,
City of Guelph

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

Good day Members of Council, a few scheduling related notices for your information.

Scheduling Tentative 2014 Budget Dates
Potential dates relating to the approval of the 2014 budget have been tentatively set and will be scheduled for specific dates in October, November and December 2013. These dates are being tentatively scheduled now in order to avoid any future potential conflicts. Finance is planning to bring forward further information to Council regarding the 2014 budget process this spring.

Rescheduling PBEE and OTES
Starting in May and carrying through for the remainder of 2013, PBEE and OTES meetings will be rescheduled from the 3rd week of each month to either the 1st or 2nd week (meeting times will remain the same). This change is being brought forward in order to realize some efficiencies with respect to our agenda production schedule which will allow us to better consolidate agenda related information for distribution to Council. It also complements our existing practice of publishing agendas a week sooner than last year by allowing us to similarly back up the addendum production cycle so that Council can receive addendums a week prior to the meeting (versus the same day). In order to effect this latter change a report and by-law amendment recommendation will be brought forward to Council on April 29. As this will also result in backing up the addendum submission and delegate registration deadline we will ensure that there is ample and detailed external communication in place to advise potential delegates accordingly.

Meeting invites related to these scheduling changes should be going out prior to the end of next week.
Regards,
Blair Labelle | City Clerk

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

Posted March 13th, 2013

There have been a few questions sent my way about audit. Here is some info for you:

  • I am the chair of audit. Within that role I don’t have the luxury of saying I don’t want to audit something that I might not have agreed with in the first place. It’s my role to see if the right risk management, staff/management responses to our external auditor concerns, proper oversight etc... are being done. Through this lens, as chair, I can say that these oversights are being done very well. However, we can always do better.
  • I ran for that position, needing to be elected by council as chair of audit. Yes, no-one else stepped forward to challenge the post, but it was not an appointment.
  • Our new internal auditor is amazing. She really is. Since becoming chair, council has now increased the work, scope and times that we meet throughout the year as I too felt that we needed to be meeting more. Rubber stamping and short meetings are not occurring I can assure you of that.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Q: Does internal auditor Loretta Alonzo report her investigations to the external auditor or to the Chief Financial Officer?

A. Her mandate, reporting role and terms of reference, (all public documents) state she reports to audit. Her independence is paramount. And as chair, I can tell you that she does exactly that. But please take a look at this link:

http://www.guelph.ca/uploads/Council_and_Committees/Audit/audit_agenda_101612.pdf

Q. As an employee of the city, which master does she serve?

A. She serves at the direction and/or will of the audit committee and then council as a whole.

Q. Is it true that the external auditors do not audit spending less than $600,000 as part of their job description. That leaves a lot of spending that is never audited.

A. The suggestion that "Deloitte does not audit anything under $600,000 for the city" is incorrect. Deloitte (as do most external auditors) use a % random sampling technique based on materiality to focus their audit work. Once the entities are derived through this lens, Deloitte will drill down as far into the accounts and transactions as they feel necessary to satisfy their assessment that the appropriate level of risk and internal controls are in place. There is no threshold for how far Deloitte will go down to complete this assessment to their satisfaction.  Any uncorrected adjustments from staff or management could be brought to audit committee. But with the C.A.S (Canadian Auditing Standards) it is practice to only show anything to the audit committee of $300,000 or more. Again, this doesn’t mean they ignore things under $300,000. For example, if they found a $500 bill not correctly noted in the right column, they would take that matter to management to have corrected. Having Deloitte come to the committee and report on all of these (minor) issues would not be a good use of our time. I had a conversation once with our external auditor and in his words “We’ll start at the first dollar and work up from there. Or drill down to the last dollar to make sure it’s correct”.

Q. Is it true that the reserves have been raided and are under funded?

A. Yes, some reserves were raided (which many I voted against) and some are/were under funded. But over the past two years our reserves have steadily been moving upward. I’m hopeful, as I’m sure you are, that this trend continues.

Q. Is Money moved around from account to account to accommodate the administration’s proliferate spending?

A. I have not seen this, if there is proof of such I would be more than happy to investigate.

Q. Six years after her election, Mayor, Karen Farbridge decided it’s time to hire an internal auditor. Is this is a political move designed to make her administration appear it’s looking after business?

A. An internal auditor should have been hired a long time ago. But we have one now, which I voted for.

Q. The next question is when does the public hear about the work of Ms. Alonzo?

A. Ms. Alonzo and I have weekly conversations and/or meetings. She comes forward a minimum of 5 times a year to report to the audit committee. These are public meetings and anyone can come and be a delegate, send in their thoughts to the city clerk or contact me to discuss anything. She has many audits to do this year. This is all outlined in the last audit meeting report that’s available here:

http://www.guelph.ca/uploads/Council_and_Committees/Audit/audit_agenda_021313.pdf

You and your readers will be pleased to know that at our last meeting, our committee passed a motion (not originally from staff), to have our internal auditor report back to us in April of potential further “value for money” audits. This passed unanimously.

Thank you for allowing me the time to answer your questions and I’m always available to discuss more if you or your readers want to get a hold of me. www.ward4news.ca

Take care,

Cam Guthrie

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

GUELPH, ON, March 13, 2013 – The City has prepared its 2013 horticulture planting roster and developed a plan to address reductions to or the elimination of horticulture displays across the city.  
This follows Council’s decision to reduce city-wide plantings of shrubs and flowers by 20 per cent or $50,000, bringing the total shrub and flower bed budget to $198,340. The decision was made last December during the 2013 budget deliberations.
To achieve the 2013 budget reduction the City will eliminate four seasonal summer positions and 23 displays from this year’s planting locations.
“The City carefully reviewed all planting locations to determine how to keep Guelph looking beautiful, while reducing the number of shrubs and flowers,” says Karen Sabzali, manager of Parks and Open Space.
In identifying the locations for removal, staff considered the following key factors:
•    Open spaces frequented by Guelph residents and tourists
•    Plant competition—trees and other poor growing conditions competing with horticulture displays
•    Mature plants due for rejuvenation/removal
•    Staffing resource efficiencies
•    Horticultural displays funded by other sources
Read the complete list of 2013 planting locations, including sites affected by the reduction.
Staff will report on the impacts of the 20 per cent reduction to the Community and Social Services Committee this fall.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Karen Sabzali                                                                       
Manager, Parks and Open Space
Community and Social Services                                                                                                
T 519-822-1260 x 2664                                           
E karen.sabzali@guelph.ca

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

March 13th, 2013

 

Wal-Mart bus service:

Transit moved the stops from Wal-Mart property to on-street on Woodlawn Ave on February 3rd. The reasons why the change was made was to create benefits related to system performance. Riders can still use the Community Bus which picks up/drops off at the front door of Wal-Mart if need be.

Thank you,

Cam

view comments (0)

Wednesday Mar 13th - 2013

March 13th, 2013

Good Afternoon,

This email is just to inform everyone that the 2013 Clean and Green Event will be held on April 20th.

Cleaning and collection will take place from 8:30 am to 11:30 am; to be followed by a volunteer appreciation barbeque at Riverside Park (large red picnic shelter) from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Registration for event participants will open on March 18th and close on April 12th.
Registration can be completed online at guelph.ca or by calling 519-837-5628 x3305.

STAFF

view comments (0)

christine.billings@guelph.ca | 519-826-0567

HomeWard 4 NewsLinksAccountability Benchmark SystemReport GraffitiContact Christine