Newsroom: Update on Wasaga Distribution (posted December 26, 2017)
After a lengthy drawn out process, most of us had a sigh of relief when council voted to retain and grow WDI, our local utility. Our fears of a sale for the time being were laid to rest and the WDI board has started to move forward with plans.
Below is a notice of motion I brought forward to the November 28, 2017 council meeting (link http://www.rogerstv.com/show?lid=12&rid=72&sid=5800&gid=286524) my comments when the motion was discussed at the December 19, 2017 council meeting (link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bCpvRjto1Q&feature=youtu.be and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfVDxsPFzso&feature=youtu.be ) along with the By-laws that govern the WDI Board. I have only posted the original by-law and two other by-laws that made changes to the original. There were other by-laws passed throughout the years but they were for the purpose of appointing members to the board and did not change the by-law “rules” in any way so I have not included them.
NOTICE OF MOTION: I brought the following notice of motion forward to council on November 28, 2017
Be it resolved that: At the direction of Council, the Wasaga Distribution Board of Directors conducted a review to evaluate the sustainability of WDI and its affiliates which included public input, and at its conclusion resulted in Council voting in favour of retaining and growing the utility;
And Whereas; Council received a briefing note on October 26, 2017 from the Board of Director Chair indicating that the information note to Council, marked as a low level of urgency, was not intended to be tabled at Committee or Council but was to advise council of the decision of the board to hire a CEO;
And Whereas; In response to a November 7, 2017 email from Deputy Mayor Bifolchi to Chair Preager, she was advised that the briefing note was for councils information only, there was no need to have the new position of CEO ratified by council and that any further questions she had on the matter should be referred to the Mayor as the Shareholder representative;
And Whereas; Schedule A Section 5.2(d) Matters Requiring Shareholder Approval of Wasaga Beach by-law 2000-65 states that “neither the Corporation nor any Subsidiary will, without the approval of the Shareholder (or the Corporation as shareholder,) respectively; take or institute proceedings for any winding up, arrangement, reorganization or dissolution”;
And Whereas; the creation of the proposed new CEO position encompasses a reorganization of the existing management structure and would require prior shareholder approval;
Therefore; Be it resolved that Council direct the Board of Directors to provide an update to Council during an open to the public meeting and prior to advertising, interviewing or hiring for the position of CEO, provide information to Council for their consideration that justifies the creation of a CEO position, position criteria, salary expectations and ongoing cost commitment to the position as well as expected paybacks from the position being created;
And further that; compensation including all payouts for each board member for the 2016 and 2017 years be provided to council as well as board member and affiliate company board member’s current compensation rates be shared with council including documentation of the required Shareholder approval for said compensation as per section 4.10 of bylaw 2000-65
MOTION: The motion was formally brought forward at the December 19, 2017 Council meeting. My comments were as follows:
As we all know our local utility is an important asset which has been confirmed by our community loud and clear over the past while.
The town is the sole shareholder of our utility. 7 members of council represent the town. 7 members of council appoint the WDI Board.
Despite having a board representative, who is the Mayor, all 7 members of council represent the shareholders of this community and it is incumbent on all of us to understand what is occurring with our valued utility and the decisions our appointed board is making on our behalf especially considering the turmoil of the past year and the final decision to retain and grow.
Once again my questions and in this case my previous notice of motion has prompted the town to get a legal opinion. The defensive response to the elected Deputy Mayor, asking that information be shared with us is very concerning.
I believe Sections 6.1, 6.2 and 6.6 provides an open door for council to request information which is what my motion has done.
If some of the information needs to be provided to council in camera, so be it. I think it will still give the residents of this community some comfort knowing that council as a whole has been brought up to date and have some questions answered.
This is a board who unanimously voted recommending that council consider selling our utility. Many I have spoken to, have lost confidence and withholding information when asked to be shared with council as a whole, will only contribute to that more in my opinion. Let’s give the residents the confidence they deserve as we move forward in this new positive direction.
There are a number of changes happening with WDI and all members of this council and the community deserve to understand them. This issue divided this community and it is time to bring us back together.
If the changes the board are proposing are to enhance and benefit our utility and our community, such as the decision to hire a CEO why would the board not want to share that positive move with us and the public? There is no need for the board to be on the defence just help us understand the direction they are wanting to take and the possible expense that comes with it.
I hope that members of this council will see the importance of having this information shared with us and support this motion.
THERE WAS DISCUSSION SURROUNDING COUNCIL MEMBERS WANTING TO REFER THE MATTER BACK TO STAFF AND BELOW ARE SOME OF MY COMMENTS IN RESPONSE:
I don’t understand the need to refer this back to staff. We as elected officials either want to fully understand the decisions the board is making or we don’t.
Waiting on a legal opinion which is just one person’s opinion really doesn’t matter to me. We have every right to ask the board for information. If they deny us, then we will need to ask ourselves why they wouldn’t want to share with the sole shareholder.
I supported the motion to refer the matter back to staff as it allows for more discussion on the matter in the New Year.
I know there has been a lot of interest in the WDI issue and as a resident and member of council I thank you!
Happy New Year!