In-depth City Council Coverage June 10 2013

Thunder Bay City Council Chambers
Thunder Bay City Council Chambers - photo by Quinn Spryka
City Hall
A long meeting agenda at City Hall

THUNDER BAY – City Council heard from Administration on the Northwood Sewer work. Councillor Bentz was told by City Manager Adams that the work could be started this summer. 

Council debated a motion to continue the state of emergency declared in June 2012.

State of Emergency

“With respect to Report No. 2013.082 (Environment), we recommend that, as the state of emergency declared on May 28, 2012 by Acting Mayor Boshcoff, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, remains in place, an agreement should be concluded with Venshore Mechanical Limited so that Venshore continues as the Constructor and General Contractor on the Atlantic Avenue Plant project until such time as the emergency is lifted; AND THAT an agreement should be concluded with AECOM so that AECOM continues as the design and contract Administrator on the Atlantic Avenue Project;

AND THAT the Mayor and City Clerk be authorized to execute any documents required implementing the recommendations;

Manager Darrel Matson stated that this plan is to keep the work going, and that it is acceptable to the City’s insurance company, and that letting the sole sourced contract go forward is more beneficial. 

Councillor Bentz asked about the cost of the contract, an estimated $26 million. “There is $21 million in repairs that need to be done to the plant, and an added $5 million in cyclical repairs”.

Bentz commented on the insurance deductible of $1 million. 

The motion was carried.

Bike Lanes – The report from Manager Brad Adams was accepted and Councillor Ruberto thanked Administration for the work on the report.

Firefighters Arbitration

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue
Fire Crew arrives at Royal Edward Arms just after 16:00EDT

City Manager Tim Commisso reported that “though the arbitration process our single largest cost is out of our control, and it is something we have to deal with. We accept the arbitration but this is a big issue, and one that a lot of municipalities are getting on top of.”

Commisso told Council that “We must bring reality into the process”. 

The cost, an estimated $175,00o plus an added $3000 per retired firefighter is an unbudgeted cost. 

Councillor Bentz commented that while administration disagree, “How are we as a corporation to address this matter? Is it something Council should take in hand?”

Commisso commented “We don’t have to re-invent the wheel, a system that is in place needs to be followed”. The province needs to step up on this issue according to the City Manager. 

Wage costs are increasing at almost double the costs of all other services.

Councillor Virdiramo stated that “We are getting together with other cities to take this to the province. This is on our radar”.

Councillor Pugh stated that “I want to express my extreme opposition to this stance”. Pugh commented that the province has taken the right to strike away from many groups of workers. “Now what is being proposed is after taking away the right of workers to strike, we are going to impose condition on arbitrators to curtain the rights of working people”.

Councillor Johnson asked about the total costs, which she felt add up to over $362,000. It is the pay out in a ‘retro-payment’ and $30 to $35 thousand a year. The Councillor said the 3% 6% and 9% pay increases are unacceptable and that “We have work to do on this. We have to cut back on these kinds of cost increases”.

Fire Chief Hay clarified that the rates of increase were based on lump sum increases on wages based on services. That did not satisfy the at-Large Councillor.

Mayor Hobbs commented that the increase is a ‘Retention Pay’ and was first implemented to keep workers, police officers in Toronto that was put in place.

Hobbs said, “Arbitrators have to take in account ability to pay”. Hobbs commented that in the case, for example of Dryden that these kinds of increases would hammer the community as an example.

Councillor Virdiramo added, “The 3%, 6% and 9% were retention pay, and we don’t have a problem with firefighters, or police officers leaving. They are here to stay”.

The report was received as information.

The Committee of the Whole meeting was adjourned at 19:30EDT.

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