Next steps for County of Simcoe Hub in Orillia
Council received an update on the vision that has emerged from the consultation process regarding the development of a community hub on the former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute (ODCVI) property in Orillia undertaken in spring/summer 2019. Based on input from 678 community members and organizations, the vision is one of a vibrant, diverse and inclusive regional hub which provides affordable housing options for seniors and other mixed income households, helps to alleviate the barriers to accessing essential community and social services for residents, and creates a sense of inclusion.
A two-phased approach was recommended to Council, with a multi-building campus design, including affordable housing and community services as well as County corporate and other business services. Council approved extending a Request for Proposal (RFP) for architectural design firms, in accordance with the County's procurement guidelines. In early 2020, the contract will be awarded for a feasibility study, site plan and conceptual design seeking input from staff and stakeholders, including the City of Orillia. Additional studies are required throughout the process.
Donation to Paramedic Services
In 2019, the Director and Chief of Paramedic Services was contacted by a past user of County Paramedic Services who wished to provide a sizable donation to support the mental health challenges faced by some first responders.
Council approved the establishment of an Interest-bearing Reserve Fund specific to this $100,000 donation from the anonymous benefactor to support Paramedic Services staff's psychological well-being. Council and staff are incredibly grateful for this generous gift, and staff are working on a long-term plan to utilize this compassionate donation.
Simcoe County Hospice Alliance – 2019 Funding Request
In March 2017, County Council endorsed the Simcoe County Hospice Funding Policy and approved the allocation of $500,000 annually for a three-year period extending from 2017 to 2019. The funding was allocated in the amount of $60,000 per hospice bed over the three-year period as a method of distributing the funds across our area hospices.
This month, County Council approved the 2019 Simcoe County Hospice Alliance's funding request in the amounts specified by the Alliance's Chair. This funding will support our communities through the delivery of sustainable palliative services at Hospice Georgian Triangle, Hospice Huronia, Mariposa House Hospice and Matthews House Hospice.
Regional Government Review - Service Delivery Task Force
The County has always looked for opportunities to provide efficiencies and good value for tax dollars. The Province was clear in the fall that they wanted to see municipalities continue to identify innovative opportunities that meet the needs of our growing communities. On March 26, 2019 Council formed its own Regional Government Review Task Force to consider and make recommendations regarding service delivery models to the Province. Earlier this month, Council ratified the recommendations from the December 16, 2019 meeting of the County's Regional Government Review – Service Delivery Task Force.
These recommendations included asking Council to approve engaging a third-party consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of Fire Services, Land Use Planning and Library Services. The Service Delivery Task Force also recommended a collaborative municipal staff review of Water and Wastewater, Storm Water Management, Transit and Legal Services. Council voted that costs incurred through the third-party reviews will be drawn from Municipal Modernization and Efficiencies funding provided by the Province. Further collaborative discussions and reviews will occur throughout 2020.
Timber Sales Results – Fall 2019
Simcoe County has long recognized the many benefits of our 33,000 acres of municipally managed forests. Operating the largest municipally owned forest in Ontario is very significant for the long-term well-being of our environment, our communities and our economy. The management of our working forests through sustainable practices, such as thinning to promote new growth and forest regeneration, is critical not only to balance competing uses in the short term but to ensure that the many benefits of our forests are available for generations to come. Good long-term planning, promotion and education are key to ensuring continued growth and success, which is anchored by the Simcoe County Forest 20-year Forest Management Plan (2011-2030).
Timber sales revenue for 2019 is $2,294,000, a historically high total. This is primarily due to the aging red pine growing stock planted during the first few decades after the establishment of the County Forest. As detailed in the 2011 – 2030 management plan, an increasing percentage of these highly valuable stands of timber are nearing the end of their rotation age. As the final harvests are occurring and conversion to mixed natural forest increases, a reduction in timber volume and associated revenue will occur within the next 10 to 20 years.