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Wasaga Beach votes to keep utility

In Council Watch
Jul 6th, 2017

Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin

After months of research and public consultation, Wasaga Beach council unanimously decided to retain and grow Wasaga Distribution Inc.

Council wasn’t slated to make a decision about the utility provider until a special meeting on July 18. However, during another special meeting today regarding a different issue, council members decided to end the review process.

“The people of Wasaga Beach have spoken loud and clear about their desire to retain ownership of our utility provider,” says Mayor Brian Smith. “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.”

Residents showed a level of engagement on the WDI issue not seen for some time in the community.

In October 2016, WDI board representatives, with the help of Mr. Mark Rodger of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, made a presentation to town council on potential options for the future of WDI.

Mr. Rodger presented three potential options for council’s consideration: retain and grow the utility, merge the utility, and sell the utility.

Based on the recommendations, council decided to conduct a review of the options.

The recommendations from WDI were prompted by the fact that major changes are occurring in the electrical distribution sector in Ontario, as demonstrated through the sale or merger of a number of small utility companies, the “905 mega merger,” and the privatization of Hydro One. These changes are in conjunction with the introduction of additional regulations to govern the sector.

At the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in 2015, municipalities with utility companies were encouraged to review the changes taking place throughout the sector, and explore options to ensure the electrical needs of residents and business owners are met in an affordable manner now and into the future.

Throughout the town’s review process, the municipality received extensive feedback from the community. A multi-phase public engagement process was conducted as part of the review.

In May of this year, residents were able to e-mail the town comments and questions about Wasaga Distribution.

Also in May, the town hosted a public information session at the RecPlex, featuring guest speakers with expert knowledge about the electricity sector. Residents were able to ask questions and make comments at the meeting.

The session was followed by a telephone survey that found a majority of residents did not support the sale of Wasaga Distribution Inc.

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