Council defers discussion on Wagg’s Wood divestment

Wagg’s Wood

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—A recommendation from the October 9 Central Manitoulin Property Committee that council support in principle the transfer of the Wagg’s Wood property to the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC) got a bit of a rough ride at the Thursday, October 11 meeting of council. Discussion centred less over the substance of the motion than procedural concerns on whether this council (which has entered the so-called Lame Duck period limiting council’s disposition of property over $50,000) could or should be making recommendations to a future council.

The initial motion nearly dropped from the table when it was moved by Councillor Alex Baran and there was a delay in gaining a second. Councillor Dale Scott, who had moved the motion in committee, eventually seconded the motion.

“I have a problem with supporting this as this council is not the council that will be doing this,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “I don’t see this council doing support with it being lame duck.”

“I don’t think we should recommend to accept it (in its present form),” agreed Councillor Pat MacDonald, who seconded the original motion in committee. She put forward a potential different wording that would recommend in principle that the future council consider entering into discussions as to the disposition of Wagg’s Wood.

“A number of considerations have to be worked out,” said Councillor Ted Taylor. “I don’t think we should be discussing it if it is valued over $50,000. I think the estimate on that property is $65,000.”

Clerk Treasurer Ruth Frawley supplied that “you can discuss it; you just can’t sell it.”

“All we are doing is recommending that council enter into discussions,” said Mayor Richard Stephens.

“Can we even enter into discussions over a specific group?” questioned Councillor Stephens.

“That has not been determined yet,” said Mayor Stephens. “It is with our lawyer.”

Councillor Scott expressed puzzlement over the reluctance of council to deal with the motion. “The other night my motion was to support in principle for the EBC to purchase and acquire the property and we were in favour of passing it,” he said. “Now it is a couple of days later and we are having an issue with the motion.”

Councillor Alex Baran suggested that supporting the concept “in principle” was a non-issue. “A day or two ago this same group of people moved the motion unanimously,” he said. “We need not be concerned about mentioning the EBC. Elected representatives have agreed to it in principle.”

“Just because a recommendation comes forward from committee does not commit us to support it,” admonished Councillor MacDonald.

“That is kind of what we are doing here,” replied Mayor Stephens.

“In my way of thinking, and Alex is saying, because we support it in principle doesn’t violate any policy or principle. The decision is still left to the new council.”

“I don’t think we have all the facts,” said Mayor Stephens.

At this point Councillor Baran suggested the motion simply be tabled, with a recommendation to staff that the motion be returned on the first agenda of the new council after the election.

“I do think it would be good for us to recommend the new council enter into discussion on the transfer,” said Councillor Scott.

“There could be five new people sitting around this table,” reminded Councillor Stephens.

Mayor Stephens agreed, saying the item should be dealt with and discussed by the new council. Mayor Stephens then asked Clerk Treasurer Frawley for her recommendation.

“I would say table it as well,” she said.

Council tabled the motion, although Councillor Stephens questioned the procedural legitimacy of tabling the matter, suggesting the motion should simply fail to pass if it did not have the support of the council.

“Ruth will be making a note,” concluded Mayor Stephens.