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Council in Brief: Nov. 27

Thunder Bay's city council reversed course on a proposed indoor turf facility and reaffirmed a decision around an integrity commissioner complaint.
Thunder Bay city hall. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay’s city council reversed course on a proposed indoor turf facility while holding firm – just barely – on its handling of an integrity commissioner report into the conduct of Coun. Rajni Agarwal.

Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4.

Council adjusts course on indoor turf

Council adjusted course in its pursuit of an indoor turf facility, overturning a vote held just a week ago and approving a $38-million financing plan for a proposed build adjacent to the Community Auditorium.

The move will avert cuts to the project’s scope and months of delays, but the result could struggle to earn council’s support if bids don’t come in well below the $38-million figure, which several councillors said they can’t support.

The motion also contemplates reducing design standards for the project, heightening concerns over its climate impacts.

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Push to reduce Agarwal’s sanction fails

A renewed push to reduce the penalty faced by Coun. Rajni Agarwal for violating council’s code of conduct failed on a tie vote.

That leaves Agarwal facing the 30-day pay suspension the city’s integrity commissioner recommended, expected to cost her well over $3,000.

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Short-term rentals

The City of Thunder Bay will call on the province to more tightly regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb properties.

Steps the city wants Ontario to take include requiring the rentals be registered with municipalities, and that they comply with local zoning and licensing rules.

Coun. Shelby Ch’ng, who championed the motion, called it a first step in starting to tackle an industry she says is cutting into housing availability and not paying appropriate taxes.

Coun. Trevor Giertuga and Coun. Brian Hamilton declared conflicts, saying they operate short-term rentals.

Coun. Rajni Agarwal cast the only vote against the measure.

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Government Road zoning change rejected

Council rejected a rezoning application from a Government Road couple who hoped to host events like weddings on their property.

The decision was in line with advice from city administration, with staff expressing concern that large events like weddings would not be “compatible” with the rural neighbourhood, and that a noise impact assessment had not been received.

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Ambulance purchase

The city has extended a contract with Crestline Coach, paying just shy of $1 million for four new ambulances.

Superior North EMS chief Shane Muir said vehicle costs have recently surged across the industry.

The new vehicles replace three ambulances reaching end of life, and one that was written off after a collision.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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