City councillors in Dryden are moving forward with development plans on Skillen Crescent and funding agreements with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, but have pushed back approving the community’s 2023 Capital and Operating budgets.

Councillors gathered at City Hall last night while Mayor Jack Harrison and Chief Administrative Officer Roger Nesbitt, who are attending Ontario’s ROMA conference in Toronto, attended virtually with other members of city staff for a Council meeting.

Much of the discussion surrounded a further amendment to the proposed 2023 Capital budget, delaying Dryden’s budget process for a third time.

Councillor Bryan Tardiff raised concerns surrounding a proposed $70,000 development on an empty King Street lot which aimed to beautify the city and provide a new public area with seating.

But as Councillor Tardiff explains, the lot is owned privately, not by the municipality, and liability could be an issue, as well as other private developers asking for similar funding agreements.

Now, Treasurer Steven Lansdell-Roll is expected to present the final budget document at Dryden’s February Council meeting without that project, which would have used federal gas tax reserve funds. Now, council will be able to select a new project for those funds.

Elsewhere, Council debated the acceptance of about $3.2 million from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. While some members of Council raised concerns about its implications, others argued the funding was too valuable to pass up.

Councillor Ritch Noel remarked he feels the funding would be ‘tainted’ and voted against accepting the two funding agreements under the NWMO, while Councillor Bryan Tardiff says the city shouldn’t ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’. Ultimately, funds were accepted after a 5-1 vote.

Later, Council approved a minor site plan amendment at an Arthur Street development under the Kenora District Services Board, as well as approving a substantial increase to 5 Skillen Crescent’s housing development – from 18 housing units to 60 units.

The city also approved an application to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation for funding to help replace docks at the Van Horne Landing, but most of the project would be municipally funded - if approved.

Public Works Manager Blake Poole explains that the area saw damage earlier this year due to northwestern Ontario’s historic rainfall and flooding this spring, and the docks have been closed down since. Engineers were brought in to assess the work in 2022.

During comment period, many members of staff also took time to congratulate and celebrate Poole - who is celebrating his 25th year of service with the city.

While at ROMA, Mayor Harrison notes he and CAO Nesbitt have met with Solicitor General Michael Kerzner about their high costs of policing, as well as Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra on senior’s housing.

Manager of Community Services, Steve Belanger, adds the city will also be host to the Lil’ Bands tournament between January 31 and February 5 for the first time in three years, featuring 38 First Nations hockey teams from across the region.