Since Carleton Place council moved to a committee of the whole (CoW) system at the beginning of this term, full council sessions have been fairly quick rubber-stamp affairs with CoW decisions being approved without debate. But on Tuesday, June 11th, 2 items on the council agenda (from the previous CoW meeting) received a fair amount of discussion with some surprising results.
The first was the arena upgrade and expansion file. At the CoW meeting of May 28th, council decided to go with an option for a full 2-storey addition which would incorporate much needed additional change-rooms as well as lobby renos. Staff had previously warned council that the new public area on the second floor would have questionable commercial and community value due to a long narrow footprint. The budget was set at $2.5M. At the full council session staff again brought up their concerns and recommended a partial 2nd storey addition. After much discussion, council overruled the CoW recommendation and voted to approve the partial upper level while keeping the budget the same. They indicated the funds saved in constructing a smaller upper floor would be spent in expanded lobby renovations.
The second item which received unusual treatment was a request from local developer Wally Thorbjornsson for a ‘limiting distance agreement’ for his property at 74 Bridge St. This was brought to council because Thorbjornsson added windows and a door on the north end of the building which faces the municipally owned parking lot. This was done without town approval. As there was not enough property set-back, the distance agreement was recommended by staff as the only solution. The CoW approved this resolution providing that the Thorbjornsson paid all legal costs and pending a legal opinion on how the agreement might be dissolved in the future should the need arise.
Town CAO Diane Smithson delivered that opinion from the municipality’s lawyers at the full council session which stated the agreement would be tied to the properties, not the owners, and dissolution could only be achieved if both parties agreed. After much discussion, where it seemed clear that the majority of council didn’t agree with this arrangement, Mayor Doug Black called for a vote and with only councilor Theresa Fritz voting in favour, Black declared the motion defeated before asking for votes against. When asked about the apparent lack of adherence to normal voting policy, Black indicated he took full responsibility as the chair of the meeting.
Black also stated that staff would now work with Thorbjornsson to arrange for him to restore the building face to its previous condition.