North Huron Reeve disagrees with Morris-Turnberry report on Green's
BY DENNY SCOTT
North Huron Reeve Bernie Bailey has taken offence to comments made in a Morris-Turnberry staff report suggesting North Huron staff had taken actions they weren’t allowed to take.
Bailey, during Monday night’s North Huron Council meeting, made heated remarks in response to the report, which was discussed during Morris-Turnberry’s Oct. 6 meeting. The report indicated that North Huron staff had directed the Green family, whose home is in Morris-Turnberry, to start digging up their property to connect to North Huron services.
That flies in the face of the moratorium that North Huron Council had put on cross-border servicing until Morris-Turnberry and North Huron are able to negotiate a deal for said services.
As a result of the report, Morris-Turnberry council requested North Huron allow the Green family to hook up to the water services, but not connect to them to honour the moratorium.
The Green family has been running its business, Green’s Meat Market, out of their home since a fire destroyed the business primary building earlier this year. Due to the increased use of the home, a request was made to connect to the North Huron water system, however, North Huron turned the request down until a formalized cross-border agreement was reached with Morris-Turnberry.
“I’m disappointed in the way our staff was talked about,” Bailey said, before giving an account of events in which North Huron staff didn’t suggest the work, but instead put a stop to it when it was discovered going forward without approval.
Furthermore, he said that, if the exposed water pipes freeze, as Morris-Turnberry staff suggested they might if left uncovered, that will be Morris-Turnberry’s responsibility and not North Huron’s because the work is being done on Morris-Turnberry land.
Bailey said there will never be a deal with Morris-Turnberry if the situation continues this way.
“You don’t say those kinds of things in public,” he said. “It’s bullshit. I’m not happy about it.”
Bailey then went on to say that other municipalities in similar situations had flourished while their neighbours, who wouldn’t negotiate a deal for shared services, floundered as a result. He pointed to Hanover, which was negotiating to provide services with a neighbour, however those negotiations broke down. The result didn’t have a negative effect on Hanover.
“Wingham will be bustling [like Hanover],” he said.
Other council members shared Bailey’s grim outlook on the negotiations.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise to me the way this negotiation has gone,” Councillor Kevin Falconer, who sits on the negotiation committee, said. “[This is] the way they’ve gone for 15 to 20 years. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. I hope the negotiations can continue, and we can [come to] some kind of an agreement, but yelling into an empty box doesn’t do anything.”
Deputy-Reeve Trevor Seip said all the issues in the request were for Morris-Turnberry to deal with, not North Huron, and, if Morris-Turnberry Council wants to help its ratepayer, they should and not involve North Huron.
He said he feels for the Green family, who is stuck between the councils, but went on to say the issue is one for Morris-Turnberry to deal with until a deal is made.
“It doesn’t sound like Morris-Turnberry wants an agreement,” he said. “They want to use the media to make us look like the bad guy.”
Councillor Chris Palmer, however, was concerned with the allegation that North Huron staff had directed the Greens to start the process to connect with the water and said he wanted that investigated.
Falconer disagreed, saying that if North Huron staff hadn’t stopped the work, the hook-up likely would have been completed. He then said he didn’t want to “reward bad behaviour” by approving the request, before going on to say that what was attempted was “theft of public property owned by North Huron.”
“I can’t see it any other way,” he said, adding no permission had been given.
Seip said that council needed to know if a staff member had given permission to start the project, going on to say this doesn’t need to be a combative discussion until staff get to the bottom of the issue.
Council directed staff to communicate with Morris-Turnberry regarding the situation, with Palmer asking that Chief Administrative Officer Dwayne Evans look into whether North Huron staff did give any kind of suggestion of permission to the Green family.