NORTH HURON – Staff from the Township of North Huron have put together a cross-border agreement and will be presenting the document to Morris-Turnberry council by the end of the week.
The agreement was to be discussed at North Huron’s regular council meeting on Tuesday, April 18 - a day later than usual due to the Easter holiday. Details of council’s discussion will be included in next week’s Advance Times, which went to press prior to the Tuesday night meeting.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Reeve Bernie Bailey told the Advance Times that he was hopeful the arrangement would be met with positivity from Morris-Turnberry so the two townships could get this done before a new council takes over.
“We’ve been negotiating back and forth for about three years now… the agreement we are putting together, we’re pretty well giving them everything they are asking for and we’re pretty much getting everything we wanted,” he said. “It’s a good, fair agreement for both sides. Neither side is getting exactly what they wanted but it has been tweaked.”
Added Bailey, “We took everything they asked for, based on their numbers, and we’ve added in what we would like. It is time that both councils started working together.”
A staff report in North Huron’s council agenda states, “At the end of 2021, there were five outstanding issues in the agreement to be resolved between the two parties. Since that time, North Huron and Morris-Turnberry have agreed, in principle, to resolutions for four out of the five issues. The one outstanding issue involves the front portion of the former Willis Farm lands (located in Morris-Turnberry).
“The agreement incorporates the Township Solicitor’s recommendations and amends the Willis Farm lands clause to reflect that North Huron agrees to reserve 10 cubic metres of water and sanitary services, respectively, for Highway Commercial uses. This reserve capacity is specific to the Willis Farm lands and would be exempted from the $50,000 penalty fee. The Willis Farm lands clause has also been amended to state that non-Highway Commercial development on these lands is included as part of the capacity limit allocated in Clause 1.”
Staff also recommended that the Cross Border Ad Hoc Committee be dissolved so that they can concentrate on North Huron’s growth and development.
At the outset of the negotiation process, the following principles were developed by the two parties to guide the discussions:
- North Huron is seeking fair compensation for serviced land in Morris-Turnberry;
- capacity allocated to properties in Morris-Turnberry is not available for use or re-allocation by North Huron;
- as users of the system, Morris-Turnberry residents connected to the system have financial responsibilities for the maintenance, repair, and upgrades to the system;
- Morris-Turnberry wants a user-pay agreement;
- Morris-Turnberry and North Huron may not have the same level of interest in a capital improvement, e.g., siphon;
- Morris-Turnberry and North Huron need to collect funds for the inspection, maintenance, repair, and upgrades to the system from their respective users of the system;
- North Huron’s priority and commitment is to North Huron users;
- Morris-Turnberry and North Huron wish to promote and facilitate development in a timely and cost-effective manner, i.e., remove barriers to development and provide stability; and
- North Huron wants a long-term agreement (20 years) that will require minimal, if any, revisions.
Following the above-noted principles, staff prepared an extensive series of terms and conditions, which they will discuss at the Tuesday meeting.
The proposed cross-border agreement would see Morris-Turnberry pay for 50 cubic metres at 1.5 times North Huron’s applicable rates. The previous agreement had Morris-Turnberry users paying based on usage and also paying North Huron’s capital charge.
With respect to capital, Morris-Turnberry users would no longer pay a capital charge to North Huron. Instead, North Huron would bill Morris-Turnberry for minor ($100,000) repairs based on the terms of the agreement.
This is an ongoing story and will be updated with the final terms and conditions after the April 19 meeting.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times