County officials play waiting game over recouping road costs

For now, Well­ington County officials can only wait to see if they will be reimbursed for boundary line road repairs they made at Win­ston Churchill Boulevard – and from whom that money might come.

The county spent $3.1-million in 2007 to repair that road and a bridge on it, and billed half the cost to the Region of Peel, as per their municipal agreement.

But Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj said in an interview on Monday that Peel officials, who have already paid the county some of that cost, are now wondering if they should have paid anything at all. Wellington is still waiting for about $1.2-million.

The complications go all the way back to an Ontario Muni­cipal Board zoning decision in 1978 for two gravel pit opera­tors.

They agreed to help main­tain the road as part of the conditions for their pit licences from the Ministry of Natural Resour­ces.

Complicating the matter even further, the road at that time belonged to Erin town­ship and Peel Region. That township disappeared ten years ago when it merged with Erin village.

And, “Peel is rightly not paying until they get this straightened out,” Ross-Zuj said.

County Chief Adminis­tra­tive Officer Scott Wilson and county engineer Gord Ough met Monday with Peel offi­cials. Wilson said the issue is even more complex because of other issues.

The two gravel companies that made the agreement in return for the pit licences were Premier Gravel and one called Telephone City Gravel, of Brantford.

They subsequently sold the pits, leaving the two new pit owners, Dufferin Ag­gre­gates and James Dick, wondering if the condi­tions are still attached to the licence.

Wilson also noted that over the years, the pits had supplied gravel as per the agreement.

“There’s many compli­ca­tions to it,” said Wilson, in some­thing of an under­state­ment.

“Are the conditions in the licence enforceable? We’re looking to the MNR to enforce them,” he said. “There are many different factors being weighed. In addition to being a legal issue, it’s a political issue.”

He added that Peel officials have asked to be included in the discussions the next time the Wellington coun­ty officials meet with the MNR.

Ross-Zuj said, “The waters really got muddy when the OMB ruling was the gravel pit was to pay. We have gone to all the parties and had conversa­tions, but nobody is quite sure.”

She added that “Everybody is nice about this and coming to the table … It’s a difficult issue.”

She said since the MNR granted the licence, it will likely have to decide if those conditions are still enforceable.