Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Midland 2014 Budget Presentation

Budget Presentation to Council
Mayor’s Address
January 27, 2014


I know that you are all waiting for Mr. Villenueve’s remarks – he has all the interesting information.

The 2014 budget has been four years in the making.   Back in 2011 Council set itself the objective of fiscal responsibility. This responsibility had to balance the need for spending on municipal services with that of our economic reality - slow growth; many residents dependent upon government supports; and the loss of jobs in our community.  Fairness seemed to come in about the rate of inflation – in the range of 1-2%.

Fiscal responsibility also meant asking serious questions about how we deliver our services. Council commissioned and received the KPMG report in 2012. This report assessed all departments and gave each department manager insights on how to better organize scarce dollar and staff resources while providing quality services for our citizens.

Overall Budget

Building on this background the Town of Midland’s 2014 budget will come in with a municipal tax increase of 1.7%. 

This result took a lot of hard work.  The exercise began with Council directing all departments to look at their operations and come forward with responsible budgets for both 0% and 2 % cost growth.  Departments took up the challenge and responded. Council then took those results, weighed the public interest and crafted the final budget that you see here tonight.

I want to thank Council, our CAO Carolyn Tripp and CFO Marc Villeneuve for their leadership in the budget work. I also want to recognize all the department heads for the hard work that they put into making tonight’s budget a reality.

The budget allows for cost growth of 1.9%, which while above the rate of inflation, required some departments to make cuts. But the good news is that under the direction of Shawn Berriault, Public Works is still safely plowing our roads the roads and Bryan Peter and his Parks department still provides the best park services in Simcoe.  And even in these times of restraint, funds were provided to many outside groups including:
-         Museum roof - $145,000
-         Boys and Girls Club $86,000
-         Hospital - $41,000
-         Askennonia - $6,000

Council has spoken many times about the need to also direct funds to build our future – to economic development, tourism and town infrastructure. Funding for these initiatives had to be found by reallocating current dollars.  Our 2014 budget accomplishes this: 
-         The Unimin waterfront property was acquired (almost) for $4 million – The carrying costs are included in the budget
-         Our focus on economic development continues with a $50,000 investment – thank you to Wes Crown
-         LED street light program will wrap up this year with the energy savings helping future budgets for many years

The 2014 budget achieves all of this while allowing our reserves to remain healthy and our debt manageable.

The Future

Tonight’s budget is a step on Midland’s path of financial management. We will put the 2014 budget to bed shortly but there remain a number of fiscal issues that will continue to confront Council:
-         The overall cost of uniformed services is growing rapidly and must be reconciled with the municipality’s ability to pay
-         Provincial downloading is directing new costs to the taxpayers of Midland
-         The slow economy has significantly impacted municipal revenues

Our budget is part of our plan for the longer term.  It has to be responsible to the present and position us for a bright future. Thanks to Council and staff the 2014 budget achieves those goals.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday January 25, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

As the song says – Baby, its cold outside. But if you step outside there are all sorts of things going on in our wonderful Town. Coffee shops are busy; lots of hockey at the NSSRC; the Cultural Center has just expanded its Saturday “open mike” due to increased demand; and this morning I walked with some 100 area residents in the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memory. If you want to beat the cold - get active.

Lots of meetings on Monday January 27th.  At 11:00 am a special Police Service Board meeting will take place at the Town to discuss its response to the Town’s 0% and 2% budget request. Later that afternoon I will meet with representatives from the MSS Parent’s Group. Our area is well into an “ARC review” process that will decide the future of our public high schools. There are a lot of factors at play – the over-riding factor being the quality of our children’s education. I will present the results of these discussions and our position to the ARC meeting on February 4th at 7:00 pm at MSS.

At 6:00 pm at the Town there will be a closed meeting to discuss a number of personal issues. Then at 7:00 pm is the Town Council meeting. An interesting agenda including:
-       Presentation recognizing 25 years of service for volunteer fire fighter D. Dahmer
-       Deputation by the Midland Bay Sailing Club
-       A Public Meeting (you are invited to speak) covering three topics:
o    Sale of public lands at 349 Lakewood Dr., 1037 Ingram Cres., 1041 Ingram Cres., and 347 Estate Court
o    Council communication policy regarding contentious correspondence
o    The new Town web-site
-       Decision on school safety zone signage for Monseigneur Castex and Huron Park
-       Our 2014 budget – coming in at a Town tax rate of 1.7%
-       Approval of decisions on zoning changes for 422 King St (the Moranis property) and 845 Yonge Street (the Watts Funeral Home)

Tuesday January 28th starts at the County. The most interesting items on the agenda are a staff presentation on a central composting facility for Simcoe County and the approval of the economic development funding for North Simcoe. That evening Council will meet in closed session to discuss what we would like to see in the agreement with Hydro One for the MPUC facility.

Wednesday will feature a couple of interesting internal discussions. Bell Canada will visit Town Hall to map out the high speed telecommunications that we have in Midland for business and residents. Modern communications infrastructure is essential to our future. Later that day we will have our first meeting with the Small Business Enterprise Center (based in Barrie) to discuss how they can help our business community.

On Thursday the 30th the meetings continue with internal discussions with SSEA (financial arrangements) and the Georgian Bay Land Trust (preserving tracts of land for future generations). At 5:30 pm Karianne Copeland will continue her “downtown discussion’ series at the ShopMidland location. You are welcome to participate and bring your ideas about how we make our downtown better for all.

Friday is the start of the Midland Winterfest weekend. For all the details click:

Start of Novice and Atom league hockey tournaments at the NSSRC.  Go Midland!

The annual Gateway Spelling Bee at the NSSRC. It runs from 11 am to 4 pm

Stay warm.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday January 19, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

It may be the depths of winter but Midland knows how to have fun. Our second annual street hockey game took place last Friday and attracted some 80 shinny players.  More fun coming up on the February 1st week-end with Midland Winterfest.

In the meantime, this Wednesday the 22nd at 7:30 pm the Day in the Life series will feature Dr. Jim Young.  From a family medical practice in Elmvale, to his position as the Chief Coroner of Ontario, Dr. Young has had a fascinating career including co-managing the SARS crisis and helping identify victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Tickets are $19 at the MCC Box Office or online at

If you have not dropped into the MCC recently I encourage you to do so. In addition to the scheduled events there are all sorts of free informal activities – the Hub for creative minds; the song writer’s workshop; open mike sessions of Friday.  Combine that with friends and a good cup of coffee – see you at the MCC.

On Thursday January 23rd I will be headed to Bracebridge Town Hall for the media launch of the Ontario Winter Games.  Midland is an Official Partner in the games that run from February 26th to March 2nd.  Midland will be hosting volleyball and bowling. 

Then at 2:00 pm, the Huronia Economic Alliance will meet at the Tay Town Hall to develop its plans for an “economic development corporation” to guide our area’s economy in the years ahead. At 7:00 pm that evening a public meeting will be held at the NSSRC to receive the draft Municipal Cultural Plan. This is your chance for input to our draft plan before it is finalized.


-       Alzheimers Walk/Skate for Memories fundraising event at NSSRC. Doors open at 9:00 am with the walking/skating set to start at 10:00 am
-       A public consultation on low water levels in Georgian Bay will be held from 10:00 am to 12 noon at the Brian Orser Hall in Penetanguishene
-       If haggis, pipes and lively Scottish dancing is to your taste you will want to attend the Robbie Burns Supper at 5:00 pm.  Contact the Legion for tickets

-       Brookside Music presents pianist Robert Turrin in recital at 2:00 pm. His theme is light hearted: “Does Humour Belong in Music?”  Tickets are $29 on the Main Level, $39 in the Balcony and $10 for students


Looking forward.  The OPP will be holding a free Car Seat Clinic on Wednesday January 29th at the Southern Georgian Bay OPP on Hwy 12. The clinic runs from 9:00 am to11:00 am. You will need to make an appointment in advance at 705-526-3761

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday January 12, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

Quite the week!  While I have not seen the totals from Environment Canada, my estimate for the Blizzard of 2014 was easily 30 cms of snow.  Our road crews have been working flat out – first ensuring the roads were drivable and now cutting back the impressive snow banks. They have my sincere vote of thanks for a great job.

Midland citizens have also responded very well. There have been a few calls of complaint about ploughs depositing snow in driveways but most of the calls I received were to alert Town crews to hazardous situations. Having survived, we all now have stories that will keep the discussions at Tim Hortons going for years.

This may be the Year of Making Decisions, but this is certainly “The Week of Town Meetings”.

Monday January 13th starts with a closed meeting at 6:00 pm to discuss a personal matter, collective bargaining and committee appointments. At 7:00 pm is the regular General Committee meeting, including:
-       Demonstration of our new Town website – early “Beta release” only
-       Direction on a Code of Conduct for Council, arising out of the recent Bill 168 complaint
-       Our new Asset Management Plan - a very important document to guide our fiscal process. It will show us our infrastructure deficit and comments that we need provincial assistance to make up the shortfall. This infrastructure deficit situation applies to most Ontario municipalities
-       Proposal that we set up new skills-based Audit Committee to help guide the Town’s finances
-       Introduction of a draft long term lease for the Huronia Museum.

On Tuesday January 14th I head to County for the first meeting of the year. The County Committee of the Whole will address many issues including:
-       The amended 10 year affordable housing strategy that will affect Midland.  The discussion will give us another opportunity to develop a housing strategy that makes sense for North Simcoe
-       Direction on economic development funding, in response to the $400,000 request from our HEA

At 6:15 that evening the BIA will meet at ShopMildand (King at Hugel) to discuss many matters including the December parking situation.

No end of meetings for you on Wednesday January 15th.

1.     The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Board meets in Barrie at 9:15 am. The Board is responsible for setting the budget and delivering public health services for our area.

2.     At 4:00 pm at Town Hall is the January Police Service Board meeting. The meeting (both public and closed) will discuss matters including union negotiations, the 2014 police budget and selecting a new Chairperson.

3.     A planning meeting for public input will take place at Town hall at 7:00 pm. The Agenda:
a.     Revised development plan of the Moranis property at 422 King Street
b.    Lot severance (Official Plan Amendment) at 990 Sumac Lane
c.     Change of use (Zoning By-law Amendment) for the Watts Funeral Home at 895 King Street
d.    Sign by-law amendment in favour of not-for-profit organizations

4.     Right after the public meeting is the regular PDC meeting. The meeting will discuss the results from the public planning meeting plus:
a.     Receive the seniors housing document from our Seniors Committee
b.    An OMB appeal for the re-zoning at 340 Lakewood Dr.

We head to Toronto on Thursday January 16th for a meeting with a prospective developer of our waterfront property. Then it’s back to Midland for a special closed meeting at 7:00 pm at Town Hall to receive further information regarding the potential sale of the MPUC.

On Friday January the 17th, things really get into gear with our second annual Road Hockey game on King Street in downtown Midland. Get your game gear on and come down for the puck drop at 4:30 pm. Your chance to have some memorable winter fun.  


Saturday Jan 18 – Huronia Fun Skate competition will take place a NSSRC.

Whether you are learning to skate, elderly, looking for some shinny or just some quiet ice time, the Town provides many opportunities for you to skate.  Check them out at:

And to help you plan your busy Winterfest Weekend – February 1-3 – you will want to visit:

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saturday January 4, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our New Year has so far treated us to numbing cold and a fair amount of snow. Old timers take delight in reminding us that this is how our winters used to be.  Many Canadian cities have seen the extreme weather quickly turn into an emergency situation. While Midland is in good shape, take a moment to check your family’s supplies so that you are ready to survive a power outage of three days. Now is the time to prepare.

2014 will be Midland’s Year of Making Decisions.  A quick look ahead shows some of the major decisions facing Council (and what is at stake):
-       In January, Council will likely set our 2014 budget and tax rate. Latest indications are that we will come in under 2%. (Tax growth at or below the rate of inflation gives our municipality and taxpayers a long-term sustainable approach to our finances)
-       In February the Town should receive the environmental report on the Unimin waterfront property. Assuming its positive, Midland will shortly thereafter assume full ownership of the property. Following that the Town will seek a favourable arrangement with a site developer. So far a number of major developers have expressed interest. (Negotiating the right development agreement is critical to realizing our waterfront vision, growing our tax base and building a major new vital neighbourhood in our Town)
-       Likely in March, Council will come to a decision on whether to allow more housing units to be built on the Moranis property at 422 King. (Council’s decision could lead in many directions - from continued deterioration of the heritage property to building needed rental accommodation in Midland)
-       Council will face a decision on the sale of the MPUC, likely in April.  While negotiating positions cannot be discussed publically, there will be further public meetings before a decision is made. (Council’s decision must consider the high quality of service currently provided and the many potential benefits to the community available through a new owner.)
-       Our area’s economic development initiative should go to the next level by forming the “Huronia Economic Development Corporation” (HEDC).  The HEDC will involve the private sector and the municipalities in directly helping local businesses grow and by attracting new jobs. (A proper decision is essential to setting up the HEDC governance and in hiring the new Economic Development Officer)
-       While the date is uncertain, the Town is moving towards an agreement with Imperial Oil to allow public use of the decommissioned lot at the corner of Bay and King. (If successful the Town will lose an eye-sore and gain a new public square.)
-       Fingers crossed, the new Midland website will be up sometime this spring.  (This site will better show the world what Midland is all about.  It should also allow us to use technology to better serve our citizens.)
-       The Town has committed to building its portion of an inter-urban bike trail along Fuller Ave. Hopefully we will be able to connect up with Penetanguishene in 2014. (Once completed this bike trail, will give all of us an alternative to the car for our trips between Midland and our neighbour.)
-       The Simcoe County District School Board is seriously considering closing one of the English public high-schools serving Midland and Penetanguishene. While not a Council decision, we have a strong interest in ensuring a high-school(s) in our community. (The school decision, if properly made, will strengthen the high-schools in both of our communities.)
-       And finally, much of the Council business of Midland will grind to a halt in the late summer as municipal elections will take place October 27th.   (The outcome of the election will set the direction for Midland for the next four years.) While many citizens are rightly upset with their elected representatives, the need to vote is as critical as ever. The decision is yours to make.


A fairly quiet week in the Town. Two meetings of particular interest:

·         On Wednesday January 8th, the Township of Tay will hold its regular Council meeting at 7:00 pm at its township offices. The meeting will consider the Skyline development and the closely tied Keewatin project. If you have an interest in this major development, you may wish to attend.

·         On Thursday January 9th at 7:00 pm at the NSSRC, the four municipalities are hosting a public consultation on area tourism.  This input will be used for the Huronia Area Tourism Strategy, an initiative to improve the marketing and delivery of tourism services for our entire area. Please attend.


Sunday January 12th  -  Garfield Dunlop hosts his New Year Levee at the Midland Legion from 1:00 to 4:00 pm


Making decisions is an essential part of our lives. Each decision moves us from contemplating our situation to doing something about it. The New Year provides us fresh impetus to make decisions: about starting a new job, buying a new home or starting a new family.  The election this year gives us a chance to decide about how to make Midland better for all of us. This is your decision – make it happen.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s Year of Making Decisions - 2014