THE STOCKWELL REPORT
The November 22nd. Wasaga Beach Council meeting wrote another chapter in the ongoing discussions of the future of Wasaga Distribution Inc, often referred to as Wasaga Beach Hydro.
On the agenda was the ratification of the actions taken at the Committee of the Whole meeting of November 1, 2016. The author of that report was the Chief Administration Officer of the municipality, George Vadeboncoeur.
The report laid out six recommendations to further the public consultation process in considering potential options for the future of Wasaga Distribution.
Briefly, the six proposals were; (1) The establishment of a dedicated webpage on the Town`s website, (2) Hosting Public Information meetings, (3) laying out a programing advertising said meetings, (4) posting a list of frequently asked questions, using social media, (5) undertake a public opinion survey, (6) creation of a e-mail address to allow residents and business owners to communicate with Council on the subject.
Over and above the Staff Report, the Committee added a seventh recommendation; the holding of a
referendum so that the ratepayers could vote on the Distribution Report.
The common theme that ran through the presentations was they wanted no part of a $95,000. referendum, and they wanted Council to stop the information process and vote to kill the sale immediately.
Following their presentations, Council entered into a debate as to deciding if the Committee report should be ratified. Various motions were put on the table, followed by a vote to defer a referendum to the 2018 General Election, so that such a question could be placed on the ballot for a yes or no vote.
That amendment was supported by Deputy Mayor Biofolchi, and Councillors Bray and Smith. In opposition was Mayor Smith, and Councillors Belanger, Ego, and Stockwell, defeating the amendment 4 to 3.
Following that vote, the second part of the Committee Report, being the holding of a referendum at a cost of $95,000, was taken to a vote, which was defeated, thereby doing away with the holding of a referendum.
So….Staff will now carry out the public information meetings described in their report. In doing so, they will be following the process that was followed by the previous Council in dealing with the establishment of a gaming facility ( casino ) in Wasaga Beach; public information meetings, the creation of a dedicated webpage with ongoing information on the subject, as well as a detailed list of frequently asked questions, background information, presentations made at public meetings, and links to media releases. The matter will then come back to Council for consideration. At that point it is my intention to move a motion that would result in giving the ratepayers an opportunity to be heard on the issue by following the public voting process that was followed by the previous Council in dealing with the question of the establishment of a gaming facility, the completion of an on-line survey giving ratepayers the opportunity to a series of questions, such as Strongly in favour, Somewhat in favour, Neutral, Strongly opposed, Somewhat opposed etc. Once the results of the public survey are at hand, a final decision can be made.
Such a process should be acceptable by three of the nine deputants at the November. 22nd Council meeting, as they were members of the past Council who followed the same process in dealing with a gaming facility, Ex-Deputy Mayor Foster, and Ex-Councillors Wells, and Bircovitch.
It should aso satisfy Deputy Mayor Biofolchi, who served as a Councillor at that time. Sometime the wheels of government turn slowly. However, in a democracy both the majority and the minority must be heard.
Councillor Bill Stockwell