Town to implement snow windrow pilot program for seniors and those with disabilities Aurora
Town Council on Tuesday supported a plan for staff to implement a snow windrow clearing pilot program during the 2023/2024 winter season for seniors and residents with a disability. Snow windrows are the small piles of snow left at the bottom of a driveway after a plow has cleared the road. While most residents are able to remove snow windrows on their own, they can be challenging for others. Under the new pilot program, the Town will remove snow windrows for residents 65 years of age or older or those who have a disability, with windrow clearing equipment to be dispatched only after plows have cleared the roads of snow. Eligible residents will be able to apply for program between October 15 and November 30 and will have to show proof of age and/or physical limitations. Details on how to apply for the program will be made available in the coming weeks. Staff will report back to Council later in 2024 on the challenges and success of the pilot for consideration and the potential permanent implementation of this new service level.

Town adopts new Housing Pledge
Aurora Town Council endorsed the Town’s new municipal Housing Pledge to build 8,000 new housing units by 2031 – a commitment that the Town is making to the Ontario Government to help address the housing crisis facing the province. Along with the target of 8,000 new housing units, the Housing Pledge articulates the various efforts that the Town is making to address the housing crisis. These include, but are not limited to, the inclusion of new strategies and actions on affordable and attainable housing in the Town’s Updated Official Plan, as well as streamlined processes to facilitate the timely review and approval of development applications and permits. The Housing Pledge notes, however, that “accelerated action and funding” from all levels of government will be needed to ensure these 8,000 new units are part of complete communities, with appropriate infrastructure such as rapid transit, schools, hospitals, and social services.

Street Banner Program Policy
Aurora Town Council approved a new Street Banner Program Policy that sets a framework for how the Town and community groups can use the Town’s street poles to promote cultural, recreational, and civic events. Under the new policy, community groups will be able to submit an application to have street banners installed on street poles, with priority given to non-profit organizations promoting special events or activities held within Aurora that are open to the public. Organizations can submit applications – which must include a design of their proposed street banners – between October 1 and November 15, 2023 for the 2024 calendar year. Successful applicants will be required to pay an application fee, as well as installation/removal fees, to participate in the program. Applications will be made available on the Town’s website.

Motion on pre-zoning ‘as of right’
Town Council adopted a motion put forward by Mayor Tom Mrakas that instructed staff to engage in the pre-zoning of lands situated along key thoroughfares, including Leslie and Bayview, as well as Yonge and Wellington, with consideration for suitable building heights and densities that are in line with the Town’s Official Plan. Importantly, the motion says that this pre-zoning should be designated “as of right,” which means builders and developers will automatically be allowed to build to the pre-determined heights and densities determined by the Town, streamlining the development process by eliminating the need for piecemeal rezoning for individual developments along these thoroughfares. The motion makes note of the Town of Aurora’s commitment to the Ontario Government to construct 8,000 new homes by 2031.

Motion on gender-based and intimate partner violence
Aurora Town Council adopted a motion to join 42 other Ontario municipalities and regions in declaring gender-based and intimate partner violence an epidemic. The motion, put forward by Mayor Tom Mrakas and unanimously support by Town Council, contains several important calls-to-action, including calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide the necessary support to municipalities, regions, and emergency and social services to meaningfully address gender-based and intimate partner violence. The motion notes that in August of 2023, Federal Justice Minister Arif Virani described gender-based violence as “an epidemic” in the federal government’s formal response to an Ontario coroner’s inquest into 2015 murders of three women in Renfrew County.

Motion on analysis of Town offices and administration spaces
A motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Gilliland and adopted by Town Council directs staff to report back with an analysis of the current use of the Town’s offices and administration spaces, including an economic review to ensure the Town is using these spaces to their fullest potential. The motion notes that many municipalities have shifted to hybrid work and that some Town offices and administration spaces have been observed to be underutilized at various times. The motion also notes that at the same time, the Town has also shown to have a programming space deficit.

Motion opposing strong mayor powers

Aurora Town Council passed a motion brought forward by Councillor Ron Weese that opposes the strong mayor powers that are proposed to be granted by the province on October 31 to 49 of the largest municipalities in Ontario. Amongst several new powers, new strong mayor powers allow Heads of Council to appoint the municipalities chief administrative officer, propose the municipal budget, and veto certain by-law if the Head of Council is of the opinion that by-law could potentially interfere with a provincial priority. The motion says that strong mayor powers “undermine democratic processes.”