When it comes to dealing with the City of Barrie on developing industrial land near its borders, Oro-Medonte will be exercising greater caution moving forward, says Mayor Randy Greenlaw.
Greenlaw says comments made by Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall on Monday to the provincial standing committee on heritage, infrastructure and cultural policy, regional governance and Bill 234 painted a picture he didn’t recognize and wants to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Greenlaw says he wasn’t invited to the Monday meeting, but attended on his own accord after being advised by colleagues that Nuttall would be speaking.
“Mayor Nuttall requested a meeting in early 2023 to discuss a potential partnership regarding a mutually beneficial project that would provide benefit and value to the residents of both municipalities,” Greenlaw said Tuesday. “This solo project would be built on Oro-Medonte land and be tied into the City of Barrie’s water and wastewater system.”
Greenlaw says it seemed like a win-win opportunity. Oro-Medonte council provided the appropriate permission to continue the discussions and report back.
“Supplemental confidential discussions morphed significantly into something much different than what was initially discussed,’ Greenlaw added.
At that point, Greenlaw suggested Nuttall come before Oro-Medonte council to “make a public deputation regarding the partnership he is proposing.”
Nuttall is scheduled to make his presentation — ‘Proposed Servicing Land Options Oro Medonte/Barrie’ — at Oro-Medonte’s regular council meeting this afternoon. He is expected to present at 2:45 p.m.
At Monday’s standing committee, Nuttall said the city was eyeing industrial land outside its municipal borders for the purpose of job creation. He didn’t provide any specifics on where the city was looking.
“I would look, if I were you, I would look at anywhere from the east to the west boundary and to the northern part of the city where the city services are in place, because that will give you a good idea of all the lands that we’re considering at the moment,” he told BarrieToday at the time.
On Tuesday, Nuttall confirmed what many gleaned from his statement — he was referring to Oro-Medonte and Springwater townships.
Nuttall’s comments on Monday spawned instant reactions in both Oro-Medonte and Springwater, but neither mayor was able to respond. Both cited confidentiality because the information they had was received during a closed session of council and they were prohibited from discussing those matters.
Springwater Township Mayor Jennifer Coughlin called a special council meeting for 4 p.m. on Tuesday to seek approval from council to waive the confidentiality clause in this instance regarding “boundary adjustment.”
“In the end, we didn’t waive confidentiality, but we have given privilege to council to answer questions and concerns from residents,” Coughlin said after Tuesday’s special meeting.
According to Coughlin, she had no idea Nuttall was going to make the presentation he did on Monday. She said she was not invited to the meeting — a surprise since she thought Springwater was a “partner” in the process.
“From the onset, this was proposed as a partnership,” Coughlin said. “Partnerships move forward together with respect for the partners.
“We had no information that Nuttall was going to make this announcement. I was surprised and disappointed,” she added.
Springwater Township says it is going to make public the entire process at its next regular council meeting on Nov. 15.
“We’re going to present what we’ve received,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin said it’s important that Springwater residents have the facts, as she says Nuttall’s original comments were vague.
“It’s important for us to accurately address what’s transpired,” she said. “We’re going to be extremely transparent. Because of Nuttall’s comments, our integrity has been questioned by our residents and that’s not OK.
“We’re going to deal with this openly, because our residents deserve to know what’s really happened,” Coughlin said.
Nuttall’s appearance at Oro-Medonte council on Wednesday afternoon will be equally transparent, Greenlaw said.
“He’s going to be given 10 minutes to make his deputation and then he’ll answer council’s questions,” Greenlaw said. “He should be prepared to tell council, and everyone else in Oro-Medonte, why this is good for us.”
Nuttall has not responded to repeated requests for comment prior to publication.
By Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 08, 2023 at 08:54