Above: Part I of the GIC meeting. Below: Part II of the meeting (Note: Council began proceedings before allowing the public to enter the Chamber)

In just over an hour, Council completed the public portion of their only General Issues Committee in January. The one item they debated showed the power of Citizens at City Hall as Councillors deferred a decision on extending municipal water service to a rural located bakery in Ancaster.

ARYZTA Bakery Municipal Sewer Extension

Earlier in the week, CATCH wrote an excellent analysis of the proposal being brought to GIC by Ward 12 Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.
From the CATCH piece entitled “Breaking the Rules”:

The motion notes the city approved a water pipe to the Carluke Road bakery a decade ago – a hotly debated decision characterized as “against all the rules” by then councillor Dave Braden. Providing water and/or sewer services to properties outside the urban boundary still appears to be against the rules.
“The Province requires municipalities to prohibit the extension or expansion of lake-based municipal services to all rural areas, except in response to public health emergencies,” states the city’s current official plan. “No extensions of the municipal lake-based water and wastewater systems shall be permitted into rural area lands detailed in this Plan unless the Medical Officer of Health declares an urgent public health emergency and there are no viable alternatives to rectify the emergency except by the provision of municipal water and/or wastewater systems to the affected population.”

Neither ARYZTA nor Pineridge are listed on the city’s lobbyist registry, and only three companies have thus far even indicated they intend to lobby councillor Ferguson, so it’s unclear why he has put forward this personal motion. A controversial exception to the registry rules that allows “communication with a public officer holder by their constituent regarding that constituent’s business or financial interest” might have applied before Oakrun was sold, but seems inapplicable to a huge multi-national.

Ferguson was running late to the GIC meeting and was not present when discussion of his motion began.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger moved the motion in his place, and the debate began with Ward 11 Councillor Brenda Johnson saying she could not support this exception at the same time as the City is denying extensions of municipal water to rural homeowners.
“I simply can’t support this because I know I’ll have many residents coming up behind saying ‘Why not me?'”, Councillor Brenda Johnson closed her argument.