Eganville – During last week’s North Algona Wilberforce council meeting, CAO Andrew Sprunt delivered a report dealing with the sensitive issue of cost-sharing of services between NAW and Bonnechere Valley (BV) with the goal of reducing costs for both municipalities, while at the same time he repeated a familiar message in regards to amalgamation.
“One thing the mayors felt the residents did not want was any indication or direction towards amalgamation of any type,” Mr. Sprunt said.
His report was in response to a direction council had requested that NAW Mayor James Brose and the CAO start conversations with neighbouring BV regarding the sharing of water and sewer services. Mayor Brose and the CAOs of both townships met through a ZOOMmeeting and both parties agreed there would be interest in sharing of services as it would be a benefit to both parties. It was agreed at the meeting that a formal agreement would be premature and that a “letter of understanding” expressing that both townships would be willing to pursue a sharing of service agreement would be the next step.
It was from there that both Mr. Sprunt and BV CAO Annette Gilchrest worked together to create a letter of understanding that benefits both townships. One of the underlying principles they agreed upon was to ensure the continuation of service delivery without compromising the independent decision-making process of both local governments.
“At this point we don’t have an actual agreement, but what we do have is a Letter of Understanding that somewhere down the road it could go towards an agreement,” Mr. Sprunt said. “I wrote the letter and there was coordination with the CAO from Bonnechere Valley and there are protections built in for both townships. We also included on the last line that prior to any formal negotiations either township may terminate this letter of understanding with 14 days of written notice.”
He used the example of a potential development and negotiations taking place between one of the parties and they want to try and woo the developer to their respective township. The agreement cannot be broken so the other township can try and meet with the hypothetical developer in an attempt to promote their township as the best choice.
He also stressed the draft letter has no legal bearing and is there as a reference and starting point. The townships currently have shared services in relation to the Eganville Arena and the Bonnechere Union Public Library, both located in Eganville.
Mr. Sprunt said it is good practice to have this type of draft letter in place in the event there was a request for municipal services from a third party such as a developer.
“If a developer came to us today and said that wanted to develop in a great big area and we would like to put water and sewer in so what are your plans,” Mr. Sprunt told council. “Our reply would be that we really don’t have any plans at the moment but our neighboring municipality will sell us water. And that is what this letter is really all about.”
He told council that BV has already approved the letter and it would just be a case of Mr. Sprunt and Mayor Brose signing it.
Council approved the report and directed the letter be signed by NAW signatories
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader