City part­ners with SRFN

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - COMMUNITY -

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.

Tourism

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.

City fi­nances

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.

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