Stephen Vance, Staff
Last week Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller hand delivered a letter to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in support of Meaford’s plea for the ministry to fund a repair in the harbour breakwall that was damaged during a storm last year.
On September 29, 2017, a large storm front passed through the municipality resulting in downed trees, road closures, and an extended power outage. The storm also produced a significant storm surge causing damage to the harbour breakwall. The cost of repairs is estimated at $65,000 – $75,000, but in spite of a lease agreement stating that the Ministry is responsible for repairs, thus far, they’ve been refusing to pay.
“Based on the lease provisions, the Municipality is required to pay $500 or 20% of gross dockage revenue annually. For 2017, the total lease payment was $47,000. The Municipality applies for grants to offset capital project costs when scheduled and approved. In 2017 the DFO approved a grant of approximately $35,600,” council was told in a staff report at their March 12 meeting.
According to the lease agreement, repairs such as those required for the breakwall are to be funded by the DFO, however the initial response to the municipality has been that Meaford covers part of the cost.
“Section 8 of the lease agreement speaks specifically to Repair and Maintenance requirements,” Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman told council in his report. “In particular the lease agreement states: Nothing in this provision shall obligate the Agent to be responsible to effect repairs of any major or structural kind but, in the event that such repairs are needed, it shall be the responsibility of the Agent to provide notice to the Minister of the need for major or structural repairs, and to take whatever steps are appropriate to deal with continued use of the premises while such repairs are pending. When such repairs are warranted, the parties hereto shall consider, and together decide how and when to effect such repairs.”
In spite of the provision in the lease agreement, Chapman told council that the DFO is requiring Meaford to cover half the cost of the repairs which are estimated to be between $65,000 to $75,000.
MP Miller agrees with the municipality that the lease clearly states that Meaford is not responsible to fund the repairs.
“Today, I was happy to deliver a letter to the Minister regarding the important repairs that are urgently needed at the Meaford Harbour,” said Miller late last week. “The agreement between the Municipality and the department is crystal clear – the Municipality is not responsible for costs associated with repair work. My letter to the Minister calls on him to instruct his officials to honour the signed agreement and cease this attempt to download costs onto the Municipality.”