Highlights from the July 13 Council Meeting

Posted on Friday July 14, 2023

Woodstock – With only one meeting in July, Council had a heavy agenda to work through at their meeting Thursday evening. Council rendered decisions on a number of matters of interest to the community including the following:

Development of a new Outdoor Pool to Replace Lions Pool

Council voted in favour of proceeding with the plan to build a new outdoor pool at Cowan Sports Fields, located at 1495 Devonshire Ave. and decommission Lions Pool ahead of schedule. Lions Pool did not open this season after staff discovered tears in the liner during their opening inspection this spring. Council directed staff to investigate what would be needed to redevelop Lions Pool so that it could continue to deliver programs that meet the communities current and future needs before committing to a significant investment in this aging facility.

The development of a new outdoor pool as part of the outdoor sports and recreation complex at Cowan Fields was already included in the capital budget forecast. Now that Council has approved this direction, design work for the new pool could start later this year. The estimated cost of this option is $5,350,000.

The other options presented for Council’s consideration were to redevelop Lions Pool with the intent to have it meet the community’s outdoor pool needs for at least the next 20 years. That would have seen Lions Pool get upgrades including a new liner, replacing all the pipes, repairing the deck, adding an accessible ramp and upgrading the changerooms, guard office and fencing at an estimated cost of $2,000,000. Council also rejected the option of not proceeding with any outdoor pools.

Vacant Building Registry Bylaw

Council enthusiastically endorsed the establishment of a vacant building registry bylaw that would allow the City to better track and monitor vacant properties in Woodstock. Owners will now be required to register vacant buildings with the City and work together to ensure the buildings are secure, appropriately maintained and monitored on a regular basis. The bylaw, which is in line with the actions identified during Council’s Strategic Plan Realignment Workshop, aims to encourage the timely redevelopment of vacant buildings and reduce issues associated with derelict properties.

Consumer Fireworks Complaint Enforcement & Bylaw Comparison

Council voted in favour of banning the sale and discharge of consumer fireworks entirely within the City of Woodstock. This means once the new bylaw takes effect, personal fireworks displays will no longer be permitted within city-limits. Organized events, like the City’s Canada Day celebration, are not impacted by the new bylaw.  

In March, Council directed staff to come back with a report that outlined the complaints received related to personal fireworks displays and enforcement activities. Staff reported that in 2022, 50 complaints were received by the City’s bylaw department, Woodstock Police Service (WPS) and Woodstock Fire Department (WFD) and one warning was issued but no charges were laid. In 2023, 31 complaints have been received to date. WFD, who responded to all the calls for the July 1 weekend, are still assessing if any charges are warranted. The report went on to say that enforcement continues to be an issue, primarily because it’s challenging to identify the person responsible for violating the bylaw.

Staff also researched how other municipalities are addressing this issue. They found that there are a variety of approaches for consumer fireworks across the province including allowing fireworks for a limited number of days on and around specified holidays, outright bans of personal fireworks and differences about which departments enforce the bylaw. The one consistent finding was that regardless of the approach, enforcement remains a challenge.

Staff will now prepare the necessary bylaw to prohibit the sale and discharge of consumer fireworks and bring it back for Council’s approval. Staff will also include in the report proposed timeline for implementation.

Woodstock Art Gallery Digital Strategy

The Gallery has recently completed a digital strategy, funded by the Government of Canada, intended to support its strategic plan through enhancing WAG’s digital presence and capabilities. The goals of the digital strategy are to:

  • Establish and maintain core digital resources
  • Refine the gallery’s digital footprint
  • Develop digital content capabilities
  • Develop digital decision making tools

The strategy outlines 16 actions including digitizing the Gallery’s permanent collection to make it accessible to the public, developing interactive exhibitions and education programming through the WAG tour guide app, building the Gallery’s social media and website presence, and improving the membership experience. These actions will help to support the Gallery’s mission to foster the wellbeing of our community by preserving our local artistic heritage and cultivating new expressions and experiences of art. In addition to receiving the Digital Strategy as information, Council approved a new Digital Project Coordinator role which is key to the implementation of the digital strategy actions.

Call for Action to Address Homelessness and Opioid Crises

Council is calling on the federal and provincial governments to take action to address the significant impacts the issues of homelessness and opioid addiction is having on Woodstock and other municipalities. The City of Woodstock is committed to working with partners to support the individuals, families and businesses affected by these complex issues, however is often limited in what it can do given many of the services that can help these stakeholders are not within the City’s jurisdiction. To help alleviate the stress on municipalities, not-for-profit organizations and service providers, the City would like upper levels of government to take concrete actions including:

  • Acknowledge that homelessness is a social, economic and heath crisis and commit to ending homelessness in Ontario and develop an action plan to do so in collaboration with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and community, health, Indigenous and economic partners
  • Create a multi-sector task force to develop a provincial opioid response plan
  • Increase funding for health care and addiction services, affordable and supportive housing and evidence based preventative initiatives

Community and Social Well Being Reserve Fund Allocation

Council approved the allocation of $50,000 from the Community and Social Well Being reserve fund to fund the clean-up of encampments and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline support agencies. The Mayor’s Task Force and reserve fund was established as part of the 2023 budget process to support initiatives and address issues related to homelessness. At their June meeting, the Task Force members identified the need to improve sanitation within encampments as a key priority for addressing health and safety and supporting positive mental health outcomes.

New Splash Pad Location Approved

Council approved a new location for the splash pad that is slated to begin construction later this year. Staff brought a report to the June 1 Council meeting proposing the splash pad be relocated to half of the Upper Complex field after preliminary engineering work identified that the originally planned location at Southside Park was not suitable. Council approved in principle the location for the new splash pad pending consultation with stakeholders. Staff has completed the consultation and was able to accommodate the needs of the Woodstock Soccer Club, who use the field where the splash pad is to be located, on other fields. No other objections were received. A request for tender will be issued shortly and the construction schedule will be finalized by the contractor awarded the project.

Municipal Blue Box Program Update – Transition to Full Extended Producer Responsibility

Council directed staff enter into discussions with the potential contractor who will take on recycling collection for the Oxford County catchment area under the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model to explore how the City could support recycling collection services within Woodstock under the new model.

As of Jan 1, 2026 the transition to an extended producer responsibility (EPR) model for recycling in Ontario will be complete. Essentially, this means that the companies (referred to as the producers) who create the packaging and paper products that end up in the recycling bin will be responsible for the management and cost of the recycling program, rather than the municipalities.

While it is too soon to know the specific program details, our goal is to continue to improve recycling collection and waste diversion initiatives for the residents and businesses who call Woodstock home. With Council’s approval, staff can now begin to explore what role the City might play as recycling collection shifts from a municipal responsibility to the EPR model.

Notice of Motion

Councillor Schadenberg also put forward a notice of motion asking Council to indicate that they will not support the location of a Consumption and Treatment Services site in Woodstock. The motion will be discussed at the Aug. 10 Council meeting.

If you would like more information about the items above, or any of the other topics discussed during the council meeting, visit Council meetings are live streamed on the City’s YouTube channel and recordings of the meetings are also posted online following the meetings.


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Phone: 519-539-1291
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