Brockton passes resolution to put Westario Power restructuring ‘on pause’ until after election

BROCKTON – Brockton council met in closed session following its regular council meeting Aug. 23. Two motions followed when open session resumed, one of which was to approve direction provided to staff while council was in camera.

The second motion is as follows: “That approval for the reorganization of Westario Power be deferred until after the municipal solicitor and auditor have approved both the proposed reorganizational structure and the documents, and in no event prior to receiving full approval from the new council after Nov. 15.”

Jenny Alfandary, president and CEO of Westario Power, commented in a written statement, “Westario Power received the resolution passed at the council meeting of one of our shareholders on Tuesday evening.

“Westario Power has been given a clear mandate of growth by our board of directors, who represent the respective shareholders. The creation of a holding company for Westario Power is a critical step required to fulfill this mandate effectively. A holding company is needed in order for Westario Power to seize opportunities and expand. This will ultimately return greater dividends to our shareholders, contributing to company prosperity that is one of our core values.

“We are confident that our directors will collectively demonstrate leadership to move this process forward in a timely manner so the benefits to our shareholders and their communities are not unnecessarily delayed.”

A written statement from Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody said that “many of the shareholders collaboratively have been part of a basic due diligence review of the proposed reorganization of Westario Power, and the accompanying shareholder agreement.”

Peabody noted in an interview that council has entered the “lame duck” period prior to the coming election. The written statement stressed that “the Council of the Municipality of Brockton, which is now legislatively restricted from taking certain actions due to the upcoming election, passed a resolution deferring consideration of the reorganization until a new council has been sworn in, and the municipal auditor and solicitor recommend proceeding.

“Brockton wants to allow the new council the opportunity to make a long-term strategic decision about a valuable asset and critical service to residents with the benefit of solicitor and auditor recommendations.

“We look forward to fostering healthy growth as a shareholder in Westario Power, but we await the opinions of our professionals,” he said.

Peabody explained in an interview that Westario Power can only sell electricity to an OEB (Ontario Energy Board) regulated market, and needs a separate company to do “any other ventures.”

Council passed that resolution because we are in a ‘lame duck’ period … put it on pause until after the election,” said Peabody. “Only shareholders, with Fortis Power, can direct shares into a holding company.

“It’s due diligence to ask our solicitor and auditor to give us advice, which we will follow.”

Westario Power Inc. is a community-owned utility that supplies power to Port Elgin, Kincardine, Hanover, Southampton, Walkerton, Wingham, Palmerston, Harriston, Lucknow, Mildmay, Teeswater, Clifford, Ripley, Neustadt and Elmwood.

The board of directors is chaired by George Bridge (Minto), and includes vice-chair Randy Hughes (Kincardine), Don Matheson (Saugeen Shores), Sue Paterson (Hanover), Chris Peabody (Brockton), Bart Cameron (North Huron), Robert Buckle (South Bruce), Mitch Twolan (Huron-Kinloss) and Tim Lavoie (Fortis Ontario).

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Pauline Kerr is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Walkerton Herald-Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.