Several issues up for discussion at last BV council meeting

Eganville – The Opeongo Mountain Resort boat launch ownership, negotiations with Multistream at Fourth Chute and a Code of Conduct review for in-laws and siblings were among the items Bonnechere Valley Councillor Tim Schison added to the agenda for the last meeting of the current council.

All are items which were – or are – a tad contentious in council and they were added as a last-minute agenda item under new business. They ended up being the last items this council discussed in open session during their last committee meeting before going into closed.

The issue of who exactly owns the Opeongo Mountain Resort Boat Launch was brought up at council in September 2021 and was not discussed again. At the time of the original discussion, it appeared both the municipality and the resort owners felt they owned it. At the time, Councillor Jack Roesner said there was concern in the community about not being able to use the boat launch and it should be established who owns it. Councillor Brent Patrick suggested doing a title search. Last fall, Mayor Jennifer Murphy said there has been some uncertainty about this before.

“It has been messy forever,” she said.

Last Tuesday, Coun. Schison asked for an update. CAO Annette Gilchrist said staff has met with the owners of the Opeongo Mountain Resort to discuss the boat launch.

“There have been some concerns with the boat launch as far as parking,” she said.

“I wanted to bring it to the public attention, our findings,” Coun. Schison noted, saying he wanted them made public.

Mrs. Gilchrist said the surveyors did do a survey of the land.

“The surveyor findings are the boat launch may be on township property,” she said.

“We do have that document and we are discussing with them (the owners of the adjacent resort) how to proceed,” she said.

Mayor Murphy said this is an issue staff are dealing with.

“For negotiations in good faith, we have left it with staff,” she said.

Coun. Schison said he wanted it discussed at council because people in the community want to know what happened with the boat launch since it was brought up last year.

Mrs. Gilchrist said for now things are status quo. Coun. Patrick said it should be addressed before the start of the next boating season.

“We want to be able to access the lake,” he said.

Multistream

The second topic – the discussions with Multistream – took a more complicated turn with further discussion occurring in closed session. Council has been in discussions with Multistream to access the waterfront along the Bonnechere River at the Fourth Chute in an area which was fenced off by Multistream. Although the township owns the waterfront, Multistream owns the adjacent parcel and fenced it off so there was no access all summer. A sign blaming council for the closure and stating BV council refused an offer of a $1 lease for the land caused a bit of a kerfuffle with council and may have also been seen as a bit of an election issue.

Since then, council has issued a statement denying they ever received the $1 offer and agreed to enter into negotiations with Multistream for access to the land.

When Coun. Schison asked for an update last Tuesday, Mrs. Gilchrist said she had received some documents which have nothing to do with the negotiation but have to be discussed and impacted her being able to reply.

“I had heard a member of Multistream brought forward information defaming council,” Coun. Schison said.

Mrs. Gilchrist said it could not be discussed in open session because it was about an identifiable individual.

Mayor Murphy said her information was the negotiations with Multistream were stalled right now.

Mrs. Gilchrist said with the documents which came to her desk that day she would not comment further.

“I’m not comfortable giving an update in open (session),” she said.

Council agreed to go into closed to discuss the matter as the last item on the agenda.

Coun Roesner, who is a part owner of Multistream, had declared a conflict of interest at the beginning of the discussion, but remained in the council chambers for the open portion of the meeting.

Code of Conduct

Coun. Schison’ s third item was a Code of Conduct clarification when family members are involved which he said could include not only family members but in-laws.

Mrs. Gilchrist said there is a difference between the Conflict of Interest or the municipal Code of Conduct. While the province governs the rules for Conflict of Interest, the municipality writes its own Code of Conduct.

“We have a very specific definition,” she noted, adding it includes spouse, parent, child and sibling.

“This came up with adding sibling and in-law,” Mayor Murphy noted.

The township does include sibling and in-law as per the advice of the township lawyer, she added.

“This council added siblings,” Councillor Brent Patrick noted.

Mrs. Gilchrist said people can be asked to declare a conflict in the Code of Conduct.

“If we have sibling in there, include sibling-in-law,” advised Coun. Patrick.

Coun Schison said it should be stated both sibling and sibling in-laws.

“This policy is used in a lot of municipalities,” Coun. Patrick added.

Mrs. Gilchrist asked if council wanted to include all in-laws in the Code of Conduct.

Council agreed that should be added.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader