Brock Township will be undertaking formal negotiations with the federal government to assume ownership of the Beaverton Harbour.
That direction came following discussion on a letter received from Fisheries and Oceans Canada at Monday’s (March 25) meeting of the administration committee.
The letter – from Ben Palmer, a program development with Small Craft Harbours – notes that a presentation on the possible divestiture of the facility will only happen in a closed-door meeting of council.
“DFO Small Craft Harbours (SCH) is amenable to the Township of Brock’s request for a meeting with Council. However, a formal deputation in an open session will not be an option,” the letter reads.
“Instead, Small Craft Harbours would be willing to attend an in-camera discussion with mayor and council, to answer any specific questions about the Beaverton Harbour property and outline the process of divestiture.”
That stipulation didn’t sit well with some members of council, with Ward 5 Councillor Lynn Campbell the first to voice her concerns.
CAO Thom Gettinby echoed those sentiments but did note that closed meetings are permitted under the Municipal Act for the acquisition of property.
He also noted that if the municipality doesn’t assume ownership of the harbour, the property could be listed for sale to the private sector or closed completely.
Given that possibility, members of council opted to open negotiations.
“The divestiture of the harbour is one of the major things we’ll see this term of council,” said Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb.
Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer made it clear that he didn’t support municipal ownership, which he referred to as another form of “downloading” from the federal government.
“I don’t think this is something that’s the responsibility of the municipality,” he said, referring to the property as a “ticking time bomb” in terms of future costs.
He pointed to the Thorah Island Harbour – which was taken over by the Township in December of 2011 – as a prime example.
The motion passed by council calls for a meeting with representatives from Small Craft Harbours at some point in April, though the letter cited potential dates in late May or June.
The Township has also invited MP Jamie Schmale to take part.