City partners with SRFN
City partnership with SRFN
Another major item Marchisella is proud of is the city’s partnership with Serpent River First Nation, which came about in the past year.
“It’s a long time overdue. It was a unanimous decision both from our council and the SRFN council.”
They are creating a lands and economic development board “as equal partners.”
“Our council did something absolutely simple but amazing at the same time in setting another precedent.
“I still say the SRFN partnership was probably one of the biggest precedent-setting pieces in Ontario.”
He said many have asked him about phase two of the cottage lot program.
“It’s not phase two of the cottage lots, this is phase one of Serpent River-elliot Lake Lands and Development.”
He added that they have to look at what was done right and those that were not with “the cottage lot development, and look at a sustainable business plan.”
They are looking at possibly expanding the concept that could include waterfront, recreational lands, and even land leases for some who might only want to use a piece of property for five or 10 years.
The city’s economic development advisory committee is also working on a tourism plan.
He said the city has several thick tourism binders from studies done in the past 20 years.
“I don’t want another 600-page binder of what we have. I want them to go through them and come back with four or five pages of what are our assets and what are the best things for us to look at developing.”
A possibility is to improve the Fire Tower Lookout. He said Parry Sound also has a fire tower, and they put a stairwell on it so the public could walk to the crows nest they put at the top.
The Elliot Lake Boat Launch phase two project is set to go in this summer, which would include finger dock and a fishing pier that would jet out about 200 feet into the lake.
Marchisella said the “city is in the strongest financial position that it has been in in over a decade, and was from our auditors BDO. Currently, we have $15 million in reserves.”
However, a lot of that money is earmarked for specific projects.
The city was to start its 10-year infrastructure renewal project in 2018.
“It’s not about shave and pave and making nice looking roads on top, it’s about what’s underground. What’s underground in Neighbourhood One is crumbling and has been for years.”
They have to dig it all up and replace water and sewer lines. However, the city’s request for proposal came back double what they budgeted, says Marchisella.
“And that’s a hard pill for anyone to swallow.”
He said they will be putting out another request for proposal early this year.
“(It will) give time for our local contractors to give us some fair bids, and if need be, (we will) go beyond our local contractors and see what the bids are elsewhere.”
He said two years ago they got a quote from a company in the Niagara Region and that bid was lower than the local companies. They were to use hotel rooms for their employees and had to haul all of their equipment here. Yet, they were cheaper.
“i want our local guys to be working, but why is there such a big difference.
“That question still needs to be answered for me. i’m struggling with the fact that we’re trying to keep our local economy going and our local people employed, but i don’t want to get screwed like that either.”
City housing shortage
Marchisella said the city is experiencing a housing shortage.
“it was totally unexpected to me four years ago.”
in 2014, he said there were 248 houses on the market, plus private sales.
now, housing companies say they are at capacity, there are waiting lists for apartment in the city; and just before Christmas there were only about 44 homes on the market.
he said the city does have planned subdivisions that are serviced and ready to be built on.
“it’s a matter of getting developers to come in and build something that matches our community, and will also fit within the price range for people coming into the community.”
his address was followed by a questions and answer period.