September Council Update


Priorities are a funny thing.  Everyone seems to have different ones and understandably so.  The pressures of everyday life guide every single one of us whether it is family, money, the job or the person in front of you contemplating traffic….

The role of local government is to address priorities on an all-encompassing community scale focusing on those matters that have the greatest effect on all of us including the duty to fix what’s broken & hopefully improve on what’s to come.  Like all of us, government can’t do it all – nor should it try – at once and too must set priorities which then begs the question;

What exactly are Council’s priorities?

Listening to the recent deputation delivered by Scott Campbell on behalf of the Midland Business Improvement Association (BIA), one has to wonder.  His litany of recent incidents in the downtown core and the fact that these issues appear to be on the upswing should really come as no surprise; you may recall the last sitting of council produced an action plan in response to the matter of downtown security.  A plan for the next council – this council, to implement involving not just policing activities, but multiple agencies in a coordinated response to address the sources of this problem such as addiction, poverty, homelessness, food inequity….  A comprehensive plan to help provide not only assistance to those in need, but to also provide for a safer environment for the community at large.

Yet this report and the actions associated with it appear to be stuck in full neutral – we ask ourselves why?

No doubt, while some work has been done, the balance will require some fortitude & collective leadership to guide its implementation.  It will also require money. Money that was supposedly set aside for just this situation and while it might not be as “feelgoody” as a splash pad, it no doubt will provide for a safer community for us all….

Should community safety not be a top priority? How about future economic development then?

Midland is considering implementing new/higher development charges based on a study conducted by the consultant gods.

These “authorities” recommend an increase of 172% for non-residential development. Hmmm. These conclusions of course are based on the statistical analysis of looking at communities of comparable size and demographics, and what they charge. Midland has just had the best year ever with respect to the number of building permits issued. While congratulations are in order, why kill the goose?

Did anyone bother to check out local competition?

Let’s look at one example. Assume for a moment that you’re an investor looking to build a 40,000 square foot industrial building for a long term manufacturing tenant. While there are a multitude of factors that go into the decision of where to build (access to major transportation routes, labour pool, taxes, etc.) soft costs such as development charges play a significant role in that decision. Obviously, the costs – all costs – of erecting an income producing property are reflected in the amount of return on an investment that can be recovered through rent.

Right now if one were to erect such a building in Midland the developer, based solely on the footprint of the structure, would pay development charges totaling $124,341.38. Under the proposed changes, the invoice for the same building will go out at $338,352.73.

In Orillia, just 30 kms down the road, it would be $0.00. Given the choices, where might you locate your building?

Orillia appears to have made a conscious decision to forgo the 125K – or 340K of up-front development charges, but why? Well the business that will locate in that building might create 25- 50 new jobs. Jobs, which will mean new home purchases that, generate property taxes. New and expanded families who purchase cars and clothes, and buy groceries and get their teeth cleaned. This in turn invites others to open stores & provide services to cater to those new jobs, which in turn creates more new jobs- and the cycle repeats itself.

In this particular example you have created decades of property tax revenue, new employment opportunities and prosperity for multiple businesses which is a pretty good return on an initial 125K investment?

These are two glaring examples of pressing matters that our elected officials can’t seem to get their arms around as this business often takes a back seat to countless ‘new motions’, ‘new business and debate’ requiring multiple staff reports which often respond to councilors personal agenda’s…… wow.

Perhaps council’s first priority should be to decide on the real priorities!

The downtown dig, realistic and competitive development charges and community safety certainly make our list.

Midland Matters, You Matter and Priorities Matter.

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