By Stephen Vance, Staff
If you’ve driven along Sykes Street this week, you may have noticed ‘For Sale’ signs on Meaford’s tourist information Apple. While the Apple sits on municipal property and utilizes electricity from Meaford Hall, Meaford’s famous Apple is owned by Meaford’s Chamber of Commerce.
Council recently decided to terminate without cause a tourism services contract with the Chamber that was supposed to run until the end of this year.
Given that the Chamber will no longer be responsible for tourism services they no longer have a use for the Apple, which has greeted untold numbers of visitors to Meaford for many years.
Chamber President Shirley Keaveney told The Independent that the Apple will be missed should a new owner move it to a new location.
“The Apple will be missed on Sykes Street and there will be an effect on tourism if there is no one there to direct folks to our downtown merchants and in particular to our B&Bs and other businesses throughout the municipality,” suggested Keaveney. “The Apple has always been utilized as the Tourist Information booth for Meaford, and is such a noticeable and unique icon that visitors are drawn to stop and explore our downtown. Since a motion was brought forward and accepted by council to terminate the contract for Welcome Centre services as provided by the Chamber we no longer have a purpose for the Apple. I think there are plenty of opportunities for the Apple to have a new life, perhaps with one of our orchard markets.”
What will it cost to buy the oversized Apple? Keaveney says that the Chamber will be accepting written bids until the end of February, and the Apple will go to the highest bidder. Those interested can contact the Chamber office for more information.
“We hope the municipality will see the value in keeping the Apple open and will approach us with an offer,” said Keaveney.
The decision by council to exercise a 90-day termination clause to bring an early end to the contract has brought tension to the council table, with Councillor Barb Clumpus accusing her fellow councillors of acting unethically.
“With the decision at the last meeting of council to prematurely terminate a legally binding contract, I believe council impugned its integrity, its credibility, and it contradicted the corporate objective to assure community health and well-being, and to provide effective leadership and governance,” Clumpus told her fellow councillors on January 13. “The termination without cause of the contract to provide services to tourists through a welcome centre is a serious breach of corporate ethics.”
Clumpus, who is a former president of Meaford’s Chamber of Commerce, said that while the contract with the Chamber included a 90-day termination clause, she believed that terminating the contract was morally and ethically wrong.
“Our partners, our citizens, and ourselves (sic)have the right to expect that decisions affecting them will take into consideration the ethical as well as the technical sides in order to make the right decision. The decision to terminate the contract early did not follow that, and it has severely damaged the standing and reputation of this municipality as an honourable, ethical, and credible business partner and employer. It has also destroyed a vital relationship with a long-standing partner and friend to the municipality,” said Clumpus.