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Newsroom – Experienced Mayor Speaks Out Regarding WDI

An experienced Mayor speaks out regarding WDI:
Posted June 26, 2017

I wanted to highlight comments made recently by a Wasaga Beach property owner who also happens to be the Mayor of Halton Hills. For those who missed seeing this Dear Editor Letter in the newspaper or online, I wanted to share it with you here.

Letter to the Editor

After attending the May 24th Public meeting to discuss the possibility of selling, merge or keeping the status quo of Wasaga Distribution Inc. I feel compelled to express my thoughts.

Allow me to introduce myself. I have been Mayor for the Town of Halton Hills for 14 years. I am also taxpayer of Wasaga Beach and have been for the past 16 years. I was very impressed with the passion and the logic of the residents of Wasaga Beach who spoke that evening. The moderator was awesome. One of the panellists, Murray Elston was part of an all-party Ontario Distribution Sector Review Panel. His report was written in 2012 and has been collecting dust since for five years. Many Mayors, including myself opposed this report which would have seen 73 Local Utilities in Ontario reduced to 8-12 super utilities in Ontario with 400,000 customers per region. Where would Wasaga Beach fit in with 8,000 plus customers in a region of 400,000? You would be swallowed up without any autonomy. In the report one of the ways of passing cost savings to the consumer was to reduce jobs in the smaller utilities which you probably see a drop in service.

Most of the panellists seemed to make it sound like it is a bad thing to have the status quo of keeping the utility. I beg to differ. Wasaga Hydro has no long term debt. There is no pressure from the Province to push Municipalities to sell. No political party wants to touch this right now. Some panellists suggest there is a risk by not selling. Hmmm, there is also no risk avoidance by selling. What happens if council sells now or merge then in a few years it is resold? All of the conditions maybe out the window. The shareholder (the Town) has lost control. You can’t control what you no longer own. Your local Hydro is doing all the things expected of them by the regulator and the community. The Ontario Energy board shows Wasaga Distribution Inc. is in Group 1 category as one of the most efficient in Ontario. The Customer Satisfaction Survey proves this fact as their score was higher than all of the Cornerstone Hydro Electric Concepts Inc. By joining the Cornerstone group Wasaga Distribution must be saving customer dollars which is one of the goals and objectives of the Elston Panel Report five years ago.

Lastly the Wasaga Distribution Inc. provides over $500,000 to the shareholder in dividends and interest. That could be a risk. I know one community who didn’t get their dividend after they merged. Selling Wasaga Distribution Inc. would be like heating your home by burning your furniture. The status quo doesn’t mean you sit stagnant. It means you look for business opportunities to grow the company. As the Town of Wasaga grows so will your customers and so will your dividends as well as the value of Wasaga Distrubution Inc.

Best of luck to the council and I hope you make the correct decision.

Rick Bonnette