West End councils differ on NEMI Hydro One motion

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

WESTERN MANITOULIN—While Gore Bay council is in support of a resolution passed by council for the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) asking that the province waives Ontario Hydro delivery fees for all Ontario residents (as it has done for those who reside on First Nation reserves and settlements in Ontario), Billings Township council has voted unanimously in opposition to this resolution.

“I don’t like the wording in their (NEMI) letter,” stated Billings councillor Barbara Erskine. “If NEMI wants reduced rates is one thing, but bringing First Nations into their request drives a wedge (between non-First Nation and First Nation residents). We don’t need any more wedges being created.”

NEMI council, in a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, stated, “whereas the Premier has announced that Ontario Hydro will be waiving delivery fees for customers who reside on First Nation reserves and settlements in Ontario; And whereas the many families in the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands are having trouble meeting their financial commitments because of the exorbitant delivery fees charged by Ontario Hydro; Now therefore be it resolved that the council for the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands requests that the province of Ontario treat all of Ontario Hydro’s customers equally and eliminate the delivery fees for residents of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands.”

The NEMI resolution states as well, “in the interest of transparency, Ontario Hydro explain to the municipalities which cost costing measures or alternative revenue sources will be put in place to replace the revenue losses it experiences from the elimination of the delivery charge to its customers. And further, that a copy of this resolution be sent to Premier Wynne, Minister Thibeault, and the other municipalities in the province of Ontario.”

“It is a good letter, I don’t think they (NEMI) are going to get what they want, but why wouldn’t we want to do this?” asked Billings Mayor Austin Hunt. “The government has been putting in place measures to reduce hydro costs, so I’m not sure why we wouldn’t support it (NEMI resolution).”

Councillor Erskine asked for a recorded vote on the motion, which council unanimously voted in opposition to supporting the NEMI resolution.

At a Gore Bay council meeting this past Monday, Mayor Ron Lane told council, “we received the letter from NEMI and their resolution. Our general government committee at its last meeting wanted to bring this to council’s attention and have council pass a motion on it. NEMI is proposing that the province waive all Hydro One delivery fees. NEMI has families and residents who are having difficulty with hydro bills, as we do in Gore Bay.”

“The resolution says it all,” said Councillor Jack Clark. “We (the committee members) don’t understand why, but for political reasons the province wouldn’t waive these Hydro One fees for everyone. It is unfair to a lot of other similar municipal residents who are facing the same economic hardship.”

Council supported the resolution passed by NEMI.