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Water hook-up request moves behind closed doors

Posted December 5, 2017

The request for connection to the municipal water supply for Green Briar and Briar Hill has moved in camera with the potential for litigation on the table.

The parties involved are: the Town, represented by Jay Feehely; the Briar Hill and Green Briar Residential Servicing Organizations (RSO) making the request represented by Paul Grespan; and the condominium boards represented by Tony Fleming.

Mr. Fleming, in a November 14 letter to the Town, said his clients"will be significantly and directly impacted by any decision of the municipality related to the request to be connected to municipal water, ....  and caution the municipality against taking any action in advance of allowing our clients to exercise their legal rights to participate fully in the process. To do otherwise would in our opinion be a breach of our clients' rights to procedural fairness and natural justice."

Contacted this morning for an update, Mr Fleming said "It would not be appropriate at this time for me to comment to the press."

Mr. Grespan said the Briar Hill RSO is requesting a water supply of 228 cubic metres of water per day,as well, permission to immediately hook-up to the existing 'T' connection installed in the water main on the 14th Line adjacent to Briar Hill; The Green Briar RSO is requesting hook-up to the existing 'T' connection in the water main on the 10th Side Road adjacent Green Briar for the purpose of emergency water supply if and when needed; and The Town consider in its next update to the Master Water Plan the: supply by the Town to BRSO and GRSO of their water requirements over the agreed amount provided and within the planning horizon year of 2031); and, estimated cost of the requested supply.

Mr. Feehely's review of a 2000 agreement between the Town and Cable Bridge Enterprises and its Briar Hill development process, noted, "While it is clear these were fundamental obligations under the 2000 Agreement, there may be an issue as to whether or not either or both of these obligations continue to survive, either in whole or in part. The issues are significant. Had the developer made the required payments to the end of 2017, it is my understanding that the obligation would have been in the order of $1,288,000. However, there is no evidence that the Municipality either requested payment or took any steps of enforcement. The Agreements do not provide any guidance in terms of what happens if there is default by either or both parties."

As to the Town's ability to buffer the residents of Green Briar and Briar Hill from the financial impact of the municipal hook-up, Mr. Feehely notes, "There is no contractual right or ability for the Municipality to impose a restriction on the developer or Servicing Company from passing on its costs to the ratepayers. The fundamental obligation for the Municipality is to supply water and charge an appropriate rate. Once the water crosses onto the private lands and into the private servicing system, the cost is subject to the internal arrangements of the private system."

Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury, and new Ward 5 councillor Peter Anderson have both declared a conflict of interest on the matter because they live in Green Briar/Briar Hill.

Last Monday night, councillors emerged from in camera and passed the following motion:

And further that the confidential direction to staff and the Town's Solicitor be recommended to Council for adoption with regard to:
  • The approach on the collection of arrears for water under Section 4 (b) of the 2000 Responsibility Agreement;
  • The approach for the recuperation of the Town's costs associated with the current request of the RSO;
  • Inclusion of the RSO request for water in future reports and agreements and the associated future cost recovery; and
  • Enforcement of various issues associated with the current agreements.
And further that a report be provided to a Committee of the Whole Meeting prior to the end of February 2018.

Despite the pending legal issues on this matter, the Biffis family's annual Christmas party this Friday night is expected to include some members of council in attendance led by mayor Rick Milne who confirmed to Free Press Online his plan to attend. Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside, Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury, and Ward 7 councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre told Free Press Online they were not attending. UPDATED Dec. 6, 2017: Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross has confirmed he will be attending. At this post, no other member of council replied as to their plans to attend.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri