Wasaga util­ity de­ci­sion irks some


WASAGA BEACH - Thou­sands of Wasaga Beach res­i­dents are breath­ing a sigh of re­lief now that the town coun­cil unan­i­mously de­cided not to sell the town-owned elec­tric util­ity.

How­ever, the de­ci­sion made at a July 6 spe­cial meet­ing with an­other sin­gu­lar topic on the agenda took some mem­bers of coun­cil by sur­prise. A de­ci­sion had been sched­uled for a pub­lic meet­ing on July 18 at the Wasaga RecPlex.

“The peo­ple of Wasaga Beach have spo­ken loud and clear about their de­sire to re­tain own­er­ship of our util­ity provider,” Mayor Brian Smith said af­ter the vote. “Coun­cil has heard the mes­sage and acted ac­cord­ingly. Given all we now know, we did not see any sense in de­lay­ing our course of ac­tion.”

How­ever, Deputy Mayor Nina Bi­folchi, who took a stand against the sale last fall, was out of town and not sched­uled to be present at the July 6 meet­ing.

“While I thought this sur­prise mo­tion was com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate, I am both happy and re­lieved with this out­come,” she said.

“How­ever, I have some se­ri­ous con­cerns about how this en­tire process played out, in­clud­ing a sur­prise mo­tion at a spe­cial meet­ing of coun­cil that the mayor and oth­ers knew I was un­able to at­tend,” Bi­folchi added. “Also, some mem­bers of coun­cil, but not all, were privy to the mo­tion prior to the meet­ing.

“I’m glad I ar­rived home early and was able to be part of this very im­por­tant vote. In my opin­ion, coun­cil put this com­mu­nity through un­nec­es­sary tur­moil and ex­pense.”

Coun. Sylvia Bray, who stood with Bi­folchi against the sale early in the process, es­ti­mated it has cost the town more than $100,000, in­clud­ing staff time.

While she sup­ported the vote not to sell, she said it robbed the pub­lic of in­volve­ment in the vote.

“I felt it was a cow­ardly ac­tion. There was only one per­son at the meet­ing. We kind of de­nied the 800 peo­ple who showed up at the last meet­ing to take part in the de­ci­sion,” she said.

“My be­lief is it should have been a pub­lic meet­ing how­ever it was the right de­ci­sion and I’m glad it’s over.”

Last Oc­to­ber, Wasaga Dis­tri­bu­tion’s board of di­rec­tors, which in­cludes Mayor Smith, made a pre­sen­ta­tion to coun­cil with the help of elec­tric­ity sec­tor lawyer Mark Rodger of Bor­den Lad­ner Ger­vais LLP unan­i­mously rec­om­mend­ing the sale of the util­ity. They ex­plained that coun­cil had three op­tions: re­tain and grow the util­ity; merge the util­ity; or sell it. gise­lewin­ton­sarvis@ya­hoo.com Twit­ter.com/Gise­leSarvis

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