Welcome to our report from Town Hill for the Aurora Council meeting held on November 27, 2012. Although not full coverage, this is our interpretation of the highlights of the 4 hour plus meeting. The Aurora Council meeting was a lengthy one with many interesting motions on the floor.

Open forum during the Aurora Council meeting seemed to be dominated by parking and transportation issues. Multiple residents of Stone Road voiced strong concerns over a new no-parking restriction on their street and were disappointed with the notification process. Another concerned resident spoke about the importance of involving Aurora’s Trails and Active Transportation Committee in the issue of the pedestrian railway crossing on Cousins Drive.

United Way of York Region presented at the Aurora Council meeting on the topic of social infrastructure. “People love their neighbourhood, people don’t feel connected, and people want to get involved”. The message was clear, local issues matter, local ideas matter, and local initiatives matter.

The Santa Under the Stars Parade, Empty Bowls fundraising event organized by Pine Tree Potters Guild, and recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal were all recognized during the Public Service Announcements.

Sesquicentennial Ad Hoc Committee presented a revised Sesquicentennial budget during the Aurora Council meeting for 2013 events just under $200,000. Not sure what other items were removed from the list, but for sure it was mentioned that Sasquatch had to go, that is the proposed mascot for the Sesquicentennial year. Finding an event co-ordinator should not be an issue as over 60 applications were received.

Cllr Buck commented that with the potential government grant and planned fundraising it should be possible to offset the Sesquicentennial budget to zero. The Sesquicentennial Ad Hoc Committee responded that some of the costs may be recovered from promotional materials and partnerships with local businesses, but not sure if it will offset to zero.

All councillors were in support of the latest Sesquicentennial budget, however, Cllr Gaertner had a few questions regarding photography and videography budgets and if we will be paying local newspapers for coverage of the events. From our perspective we ask why we would need to pay the media for event coverage when by default it should be free.

Another person came forward to present at the Aurora Council meeting against the no-parking restriction on Stone Road. A signed petition from 23 members of Stone Road was submitted requesting to leave parking as is. Residents were concerned about the notification process, traffic flow, speed control, and a conflicting recommendation received to park at a nearby school. The issue is going back for reconsideration and residents were advised by Mayor Dawe that there should be no impact during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Jazz+ Festival topic was in the picture again as a concerned and disappointed resident came forward to speak about his perception of the negative attitude toward this particular event and questioned why was the process changed after four successful years. Cllr Ballard commented in support.

Aurora Community Tennis Club (ACTC) along with a few residents asked for Council’s support of a project that would see a new playhouse and covered tennis courts constructed at Fleury Park, Aurora, Ontario. Specifically, a letter of support from Council was needed to apply for a matching grant of $500,000 from the Legacy Fund. It was explained that construction at Fleury Park is restricted by the Conservation Authority due to flood water concerns; however ACTC would be relying on the Conservation Authority to change policy and accept the use of a new technology called smart vents to mitigate the flood water risks. Mayor Dawe reviewed the proposal and was able to clarify some of the technical reasons as to why it was unlikely that the Conservation Authority would change their position. In conclusion, the project could not be supported at Fleury Park – good idea, bad location. Cllr Humfryes kept the proposal alive by putting a motion on the floor to explore alternative locations.

The big discussion that lasted over one hour during the council meeting was about Aurora’s youth and the proposal for a Youth Centre. The good news is that the motion to move forward this project made it, but barely by one vote. To make this one hour debate a short story, we gathered that there were three main points to the different discussions. Mayor Dawe, Cllr Thompson, Cllr Humfryes, Cllr Abel and Cllr Pirri voted in support, stating they waited long enough (12 years) for the project to start. Cllr Ballard, Cllr Gallo and Cllr Gaertner questioned the plan for youth programs versus a dedicated youth facility and were thus concerned that it would not be fully utilized by youth. Cllr Buck, going solo, was concerned about the focus of the proposal. Her idea was that the Youth Centre should go beyond the types of programs that are already offered through community centres and schools. It should extend help and support to youth that need it, help them to excel, give them a second chance. Given the importance of youth involvement in our community, you’ll be hearing more from us on this topic at a later time.

Probably not the best topic for the end of a long Aurora Council meeting, however, Cllr Ballard’s motion was on the floor regarding town and council expense policies related to alcohol. After various suggestions by multiple Councillors to change some of the wording of the current motion, Cllr Buck simply suggested that the motion be defeated – and it was. A new motion was then tabled by Cllr Thompson to simply review existing expense policies by a specific date and ensure that they adequately address the concerns related to alcohol.

At this point we will end our commentary and leave you with a couple “did you knows”.

Did you know that during this Aurora Council meeting session the meeting was temporarily put on hold for a few minutes to let a large group Air Cadets enter and settle to their seats? Did you know that the legacy project grant mentioned in this meeting of $500,000 is a matching grant only, which means that we would have to spend $500,000 in order to get $500,000?

As we say, it is impossible for us at the community FOCUS to cover every detail of each council meeting. Everyone has their own interpretation and we have ours. Reading Aurora Council meeting agendas, minutes, attending or watching Aurora council meetings, and following local newspapers are all ways for you to stay informed and engaged in our community.

Anna Lozyk Romeo, Editor’s Notes
Aurora, ON

REFERENCES & CREDITS
[1] Aurora Council Meeting, Council Character Illustrations by Jessica Georgiou, Aurora, Ontario, October, 2012.