Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dyck is Green, Storm Trouble and Legal Health Issues

Steve Dyck Gets Nod for GPO

At their annual general meeting last Tuesday, the Guelph branch of the Green Party of Ontario acclaimed entrepreneur Steve Dyck over former city councillor Mike Salisbury as the local GPO candidate in this fall’s provincial election. It was a real horse race between the two candidates, and it drove an increase in membership in the local Greens, from 73 eligible to vote in the AGM to 150. In the end though Dyck, who’s been a long time familiar face to local Greens, as well as a trained mediator and president of Guelph Solar Mechanical Inc., a solar heating solutions company, was the overwhelming choice on the first ballot.

Interestingly, an even bigger Green was in attendance in the form of GPO leader Mike Schreiner. It was the second time in the past couple of weeks that Schreiner has made a stop in the Royal City. And this past Monday, another major party leader, the NDP’s Andrea Horwath, also came to Guelph to be a part of the official confirmation of James Gordon as her party’s Guelph candidate. Could the visits from all this party brass mean that Guelph will be in serious play this coming election? I guess the ball’s in Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak’s court now.

Storms Postpone Stuff

The wicked weather last week put a serious crimp in the plans for a couple of events here in Guelph. The Speed River Clean-up on Saturday June 4th was called off as high winds and lightening came rolling in about an hour before start time. And last Tuesday morning, the City called off a planned demonstration of the new bike box at the intersection of Stone Road and Chancellor’s Way. The storm didn’t end up happening in the day on Tuesday, but instead struck early Wednesday morning. The resulting maelstrom resulted in hours and hours of clean-up for city crews; a 300 metre stretch of Laird Road was even closed till Wednesday afternoon so expedite clean-up.

Legal Battle with Health Unit Heats Up

The City of Guelph’s showdown with the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit appears to be getting uglier, with City Hall stepping up on legal action against the WDGHU. In a press release last Wednesday, the City said that it’s expanding its legal actions against the WDGHU Board beyond its court action in March to stop the health Unit from proceeding with the construction of two new facilities, here and in Orangeville. The total cost of the construction comes to about $17 million, with Guelph’s share cashing out at about $10 million. The court action in March was to also determine how much of a financial obligation the city has to the project as typically the Government of Ontario kicks in 75 per cent of the Health Unit’s costs.

"We are scheduled to be in court on July 11 to argue the City’s request for a temporary injunction," says City Solicitor, Donna Jaques. "Unfortunately, the Board served the City with additional court documents and is asking the court to make a final determination on the City’s claim on that date. As a result, the City has no choice but to seek an order adding the County of Wellington and the County of Dufferin to the litigation as they are, in the City’s opinion, necessary parties to any final resolution of the issues."

The City also wants to make sure that they have their ducks in row in order to follow up on their threat to withdraw from the WDGHU under the terms of the 1997 agreement with Wellington and Dufferin counties. And while their at it, the city wants to make sure that construction on the Orangeville facility doesn’t go forward while this thing’s still in court on our end.

“We are committed to continuing to work with the Province in the hopes of resolving this issue,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “In the meantime, the court process continues, and we are ensuring that all proper parties are included and all issues are before the court.”

The Mayor was finally able to have a conversation with Premiere Dalton McGuinty about the kafuffle with the Health Unit last month, and the Mayor called their talk “a very good discussion.” In a statement from his office, the Premier asked Farbridge to draft a letter expressing her concerns, which he would to Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews adding “his continuing desire” that the city, health unit and partner counties “find a positive way forward that works for all parties.”

I guess we’ll see what happens as summer rolls on.

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