New mayor opens door to renewed Adelaide Metcalfe negotiations

The new mayor of Strathroy-Caradoc hopes to unlock negotiations with Adelaide Metcalfe on Centre Road water and sewer services that are stuck in court right now.

Development cannot continue for Adelaide Metcalfe until this is resolved, and more than a few members of Strathroy-Caradoc council want to start expropriating land to end the issue and start building more roads out from housing developments on the Strathroy side of the border.

Grantham said he does not see that or amalgamation moving forward during his upcoming four-year term.

“We need to sit down and talk,” said Grantham.

“This is my priority: to make sure to get the best deal for Strathroy-Caradoc without hurting our neighbours.”

With that said, Grantham does believe some sort of transfer of land from Adelaide Metcalf to Strathroy-Caradoc will eventually happen.

“Eventually it’s going to happen just by force of nature. But is that five years, 10 years, 20 years? Who knows?” said Grantham.

“If we recognize that someday this may happen, in the meantime do we both want to be spending thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars on litigation?” asked Grantham.

He said those lawyer fees and staff time need to be focused on other priorities in the short to medium term.

“We need money; we’ve got infrastructure we’ve got to spend money on. We need new firehalls. We’re probably going to need a new fire station. We need a new arena in Mt. Brydges. We’ve got possibly $5 million we’re spending on the wastewater treatment facility in Mt. Brydges. Is now really the time to spend extra money for something that’s 50-50,” said Grantham.

On getting the servicing agreement with Adelaide Metcalfe out of court, Grantham said he did not care how it got to the point where the neighbouring municipalities are in court.

“I don’t care. You spend so much time with revisionist history. Where are we at today? We don’t have a deal. What was your last proposal, what was mine? What do we need to get it done?” explained Grantham on his approach.

Adelaide Metcalfe’s new acclaimed mayor Sue Clarke could not be reached for comment.

Clarke did tell a pre-election forum crowd gathered in Kerwood Oct. 6 her thoughts on the servicing agreement impasse, making the case that Adelaide Metcalfe pays its bills and would not accept unreasonable charges. She also said Strathroy-Caradoc had given up on negotiations at the time.

But Clarke also spoke of the hope that comes after an election.

“We … publicly advise Strathroy-Caradoc that Adelaide Metcalfe is willing to sit down and negotiate a resolution to this matter outside of the court process — saving considerable cost to both municipalities — and working towards a path forward for the economic development in this area.

“We look forward to working with the new Strathroy-Caradoc council, and to work better together in building a stronger partnership,” said Clarke in October.

Incoming Strathroy-Caradoc deputy mayor Mike McGuire agreed the servicing agreement would be a top priority.

“I believe for this council under the leadership of the new mayor, this will be an immediate top priority issue. And knowing what I know about this, I’m the type of person I want in the room, I want to deal with it face-to-face, I want to shake hands and tell the lawyers ‘sign it up.’ That’s what I’d like to see,” said McGuire.

“I don’t know if my council members will agree with me; I’m sure there’ll be some staff that don’t want to agree with me. I think the other side (Adelaide Metcalfe council) is as eager as I am, is my belief.”

McGuire also said the County of Middlesex could be brought in to help.

“I’ll say moderate the conversation, should that be needed. I don’t think it will be required,” said McGuire, pointing to his police services negotiation experience.

“I can negotiate contracts.”

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner