Updated Facility Allocation Policy

Aurora Town Council on Tuesday approved an updated Facility Allocation Policy that provides greater transparency and fairness for user groups and individuals who use the Town’s community spaces. The new Facility Allocation Policy brings together several policies that were in need of updates: the Ice Allocation Policy, Room Hall Permitting Policy, and Sport Field and Park Use Policy. Some of the updates in the new policy include a revised priority group list that, among other things, helps ensure non-profits have greater access to Town facilities than for-profit groups. New language in the policy formalizes several administration matters, including deposit collection and weather-related cancellations. The new policy also clarifies seasonal deadlines and includes the fast-growing sport of pickleball into the court booking procedure. Staff met with various stakeholders to help develop the policy, including user groups, and much of their feedback is reflected in the new policy.

Overview of Strong Mayor Powers

Aurora Town Council received an informational report from staff that provided an overview of the “Strong Mayor Powers” that the Ontario Government recently granted heads of councils in dozens of municipalities across Ontario, including in Aurora, through the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022. The legislation, the report notes, gives mayors a number of new responsibilities, including:

  • The power to establish certain committees of council, assign their functions, and appoint chairs and vice-chairs
  • The ability to direct staff to undertake research and provide advice to mayor and council on municipal policies
  • The authority to appoint the CAO of the municipality
  • The ability to bring forward bylaws to council for consideration if the bylaw could potentially advance a provincial priority, as well as the ability to veto all or any part of a Municipal Act, Planning Act, or Development Charge bylaw if the mayor is of the opinion that the bylaw could potentially interfere with a provincial priority (Council may override the veto upon a two-thirds majority vote)
  • The responsibility to propose the annual municipal budget

Alcohol sales pilot program at Aurora Tigers Jr. A games

Council endorsed a plan from staff to implement a pilot program that will see alcohol sales at Aurora Tiger Jr. A games held at the McAlpine Ford Arena at the Aurora Community Centre. The staff report notes that the Town will engage a third-party operator to run a bar service for the final four games of the Tiger’s season (February 10, 17, 24, and March 8, 2024) and possibly extend into the playoffs. Upon completion of the pilot program, staff will report back to Council on the program’s successes and challenges and make reccomendations on the possible acquisition of a permanent liquor license, preferred operating model and other next steps.

Flexible signs in Traffic Calming Policy

Council endorsed staff recommendations to include in-street flexible signs as a permanent tool in the Town’s Traffic Calming Policy. In-street flexible signs help reduce vehicle travel speed by creating a “narrowing effect” of the lane. The recommendations from staff come after the Town implemented a pilot project using the flexible signs at three locations across Aurora. Traffic data collected from those locations show that the in-street flexible signs improved driver compliance with posted speed limits.

Outdoor Community Reflection Space

Council approved recommendations from staff for the Town to proceed with the design of a Community Reflection Space. A staff report notes that the concept of a Community Reflection Space was first discussed at the Town’s Indigenous Relations Committee as a public space for the community to gather and share condolences related to Truth and Reconciliation. The report notes that staff will continue to undertake public consultation concerning the location of the reflection space, additional features, amenities, and art installations. Once public consultation is complete, Council will decide on the location of the space and next steps for the project.

Aurora Cenotaph 100 Year Celebration

Council supported a motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Gilliland to collaborate with the Aurora Legion, King Township, Whitchurch-Stouffville, and the Provincial and Federal governments to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Aurora Cenotaph. The Cenotaph was built in 1925 and is located at the Aurora War Memorial and Peace Park and serves as a significant memorial for local soldiers from Aurora, King and Whitchurch-Stouffville. In addition, the motion directs staff to report back with a collaborative plan of action with possible budget considerations and a copy of the motion be shared with King, Whitchurch-Stouffville, the Minister of Veteran Affairs, and the local MPPs and MPs of each municipality.

Social Media Policy motion

A motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Gilliland and adopted by Aurora Town Council requests that the Town’s Integrity Commissioner develop a social media policy to be included in the Council Code of Conduct. Additionally, the motion asks that the Integrity Commissioner review the Town’s Code of Conduct “to strengthen and protect any violation of political intermeddling, bullying and harassment in the workplace, undermining of Council decisions and copyright of altering Town images” and that staff report back on an appropriate policy to address copyright of altering Town images. The motion notes that censorship, controlled narratives, misinformation, and political intermeddling has become a growing concern worldwide within social media platforms and other forms of communications.

Business Improvement Area motion

A motion put forward by Councillors Rachel Gilliland and Ron Weese and adopted by Aurora Town Council directs staff to investigate and explore a potential collaboration or various governance models that will best serve the progression of the downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA). The motion also requests that the BIA bylaw be reviewed and updated to eliminate potential barriers to the BIA’s success. The downtown BIA was formed in 2019 to reinvigorate the downtown core. The motion notes, however, that some barriers and challenges in the bylaw still exist that hinder the progressive development of the organization, such as budget, resources, procedures, and public engagement retention. The motion also notes that the BIA may benefit from an “exploratory governance or collaboration model with either the Town, the Economic Development Board and/or the Aurora Chamber of Commerce to avoid duplication of work efforts and costs.”

Wetland Protection and Phragmites Plan of Action motion

A motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Gilliland and adopted by Aurora Town Council asks that Town staff report back to Council identifying the Town’s current threat status with regards to phragmites, an invasive plant species, and to “include government grant opportunities, engage in agency collaborations, and present recommendations on a plan of action, including a budget, service delivery model, operational impacts to continue protecting our wetlands and attempt to remediate phragmites.” The motion notes that phragmites has been recognized as one of Canada’s worst invasive plants and has been identified as a known threat in Aurora.