From left, founder of the Citizens Coalition of Ontario Eddy Pearcy-Thiel with councilors Michael Braden, Norm Crume and Freddy Rodriguez and Ontario City Manager Adam Brown. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

ONTARIO – The Citizens Coalition of Ontario, a group that aims to keep the city informed on local issues, held its second community forum last week at the Four Rivers Cultural Center.

Ontario City Manager Adam Brown and Councilors Michael Braden, Norm Crume and Freddy Rodriguez attended. Takeaways:

Outdoor pot grows

Frequent complaints about the smell of outdoor marijuana grows have prompted at least one councilor to suggest a ban on backyard pot cultivation. The council will not take it up now, Brown said, but will have the city’s Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee research the issue.

Crume and Rodriguez said they had received several complaints about the odor of outdoor grows, but Rodriguez cautioned a ban could alienate some residents.

“We have to consider the fact that the majority of people who grow outdoors are low-income people that really can’t afford to buy their own, or primarily medical users,” he said.

Paperless payments

Starting in September, residents will have the option of receiving their city utility bills via email and pay their bills online.

To further reduce costs, the water utility bill delivered by mail will now be a postcard instead of in an envelope.

The move toward paperless is a money saver, Brown said.

“We send out 3,200 bills a month. We can cut that in half and save a lot on postage – and it’s good for the environment,” he said.

Snake River Trail

The city is working on acquiring property rights to build a multipurpose trail on land currently owned by Walmart, Kraft Heinz Company and Union Pacific.

Stretching for just under three miles – from the Ontario State Recreation Site to the city water plant – the 12-foot-wide multipurpose trail would be big enough to accommodate cycling, jogging and other recreational activities.

The project is still in planning and wouldn’t be ready for at least another three years, Brown said. Although the council is trying to get owners to donate the land, he estimated the project’s cost will hover between $2 million and $3 million dollars.

“It’s something that would attract people to the community,” Brown said. “People want to go where there are things to do and it makes our community more healthy.”