It looks like North Bay council and staff will have a full plate of priorities to deal with the next couple months. Budgeting in inflationary times is never fun and much less so when infrastructure and social deficits loom large.
And there’s no arguing with the fact the learning curve is steeper for every rookie councillor and mayor with a seat in the North Bay chamber – and that means seven of the 11 are playing catch-up, some more than others.
So I thought I’d pitch in and help solve a small problem or two and raise a bit of revenue for those expense-challenged public coffers – who knows, maybe add another infill residential property to the tax roll.
If it works out, I’ll credit the newly launched GIS Explore North Bay mapping service on the city website as it provided the perfect illustration to support a reasonable contention.
I’m referring, of course, to the Stuffles Street road allowance adjacent to Mayor Peter Chirico’s residential property on Ski Club Road. His neighbour, Sylvia Ross, has long wanted the public property closed up and sold – whether it is split between them or it goes to the highest bidder to build a home. With 66 feet of frontage and almost 200 feet deep, it’s an above-average size serviced lot that could be worth $85,000 in these markets (prime lots are going for double that price). And she’s open to the concept of selling some of her surplus property if it needs more girth for someone to build on. Ross owns a lot with 70 feet of frontage beside the road allowance and lives in a home on an adjacent 80-foot lot.
For me, the only thing that makes the property less likely to be appealing is the steepness of the escarpment beginning at the Ski Club Road itself, although I’m told by several builders that it probably isn’t a major deterrent.
Ross, 84, is drafting a letter to the mayor and council requesting that they direct staff to review the status of the road allowance. Specifically, she wants to know if it is actually needed as a future roadway or officially a public access way to public escarpment lands. Keep in mind, it’s a rugged and challenging incline. Stairs are built into the hill behind neighbouring properties to get up tough spots. If it’s deemed of public use, Ross suggests standards for signage and access issues (lack of parking or sidewalk on that side of a busy two-lane road.)
That’s where the GIS Explore North Bay program came into play. I decided to follow the links and see what they were offering. I was expecting a bit more but admit I might need some time to check out the different maps and options. But I managed to find a land use map with street names and lot drawings. Naturally, I scrolled through the pages of the brightly colour-coded sections of town to the north side of the bypass and through Graniteville to Ski Club Road. And I found this strip of public land just up the road from where Chirico and Ross live, just before Riddle Street.
There’s no need for another public access a short distance away.
Looks like a slam dunk to me, an easy surrender of one little issue rather than leaving it to fester.
As for William Chalmers, Chirico’s other neighbour who didn’t think he was mayoral material, said their relations haven’t improved. He said a large 'A Brighter Future Ahead' election sign appeared mysteriously on the side of Chirico’s house, facing Chalmer’s kitchen window and side door on Oct. 19 – the same day my first column about this issue ran. And, as of yesterday (Nov. 16) it was still there – more than three weeks after the Oct. 24 election.
That must have been one strong wind to send it so firmly between the eve trough downspout and Chirico’s brick wall. Imagine the odds.
If someone could please take care of that issue for Mayor Chirico, that would be nice. Chalmers considers it a form of harassment. At the very least, it's not a good look to begin Chirico's mayoral tenure.
Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses meant as Letters to the Editor can be sent to [email protected]. To contact the writer directly, email: [email protected] or check out his website www.smalltowntimes.ca