When county councillor Lou Maieron took it upon himself to ask Premier Dalton McGuinty to amalgamate Guelph and Wellington County, he was speaking for himself and not for county council.
Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj said in an interview on Tuesday morning that Maieron not only does not have the right to speak for the county on such matters, in doing so he broke the county’s procedural bylaw.
Maieron said in his letter to McGuinty and Minister of Municipal Affairs Jim Bradley (with copies to all county and city councillors), “I am writing you on behalf of the property taxpayers of Wellington County and ergo by association the property taxpayers of the City of Guelph, asking you in all sincerity to put an end to the ongoing legal wranglings these two municipalities are continuing to engage themselves in, all the while at taxpayers expense.”
He stated, “Please stop the ongoing turf war and force a shotgun wedding, it is within your powers to do so. Cause the re-unification of the County of Wellington and the City of Guelph to happen, cause the two municipalities to become one … Please let’s do the right thing by the taxpayer.”
Ross-Zuj was not very happy with Maieron, who has earned a reputation as an outspoken councillor at the county.
“He has no right to speak for us,” said Ross-Zuj, who was emailed a copy of Maieron’s letter to the provincial leaders. “It’s total disrespect for our county council … He’s showing that. He has no right to speak for the county.”
Maieron said in an interview on Tuesday he was unaware he might be breaking the procedural bylaw.
“I sent that letter with the best of intentions in the interest of the taxpayers of the County of Wellington and the city of Guelph,” he said, noting he had sent it as “one person’s opinion” to Guelph and Wellington councils. He also signed it as a county councillor representing ward nine.
He proposed to McGuinty, “There are seven municipalities in the county, each could send their mayor to regional council; there are six wards in the city adding one more would balance city regional representation. Add a seat for the mayor of Guelph and one more for an elected Wellington County warden, elect or appoint a regional chairman and we have put an end to years and years of squabbling with a new regional council.”
He added, “No one says we have to like each other; we just have to work in the best interest of the taxpayers as we were elected to do. Although it may not initially be a popular decision, I believe there are other councillors who share my thoughts in this matter.”
The county has never formally talked about any such merger, and the provincial government several years ago put a stop to forced amalgamations unless there is agreement by the parties who would have to propose such a merger.
There are talks taking place now in Waterloo Region about a merger of the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo.