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Grey Highlands purchasing Lake Eugenia property

Purchase price of $50,000 to come from parkland reserve fund, plan for the property is TBD
The area of the former public access to Lake Eugenia on Point Road.

Grey Highlands council has approved a plan to purchase a small piece of waterfront property on Lake Eugenia.

At its meeting on March 6, council voted 5-2 in favour of purchasing a  waterfront property on Point Road near Lake Eugenia. The municipality will buy the property from Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for $50,000.

Mayor Paul McQueen and Coun. Dan Wickens voted against the move.

For many years the property was leased by the municipality and used as a public access point to Lake Eugenia. When the lease expired, the municipality was not interested in the land and OPG sought to sever the land and sell it to neighbouring property owners.

However, the public raised concerns about losing a water access point and the severance application was eventually denied by the municipality’s committee of adjustment.

After hearing public concerns about the matter, the municipality reignited its interest in acquiring the property. Over the course of 2023, council held multiple closed session meetings on the issue. In November 2023, council directed staff to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for the land with OPG.

Council’s decision to purchase the land came after plenty of discussion about the property. The discussion focused on two prime issues: what to do with the land once the municipality takes ownership and how the $50,000 purchase price will be financed.

Municipal staff recommended in their report on the matter that the $50,000 for the land purchase be taken from the municipality’s parkland dedication reserve fund.

Local resident Andy Ormsby spoke to council before the decision and said council should have an idea of what it would do with the property before agreeing to purchase the land.

“Tell us what the plan is before this land is purchased,” said Ormsby. “You owe it to taxpayers to have a plan in place.”

Ormsby expressed concerns about garbage, washrooms and parking on the property, which saw heavy public usage during the COVID pandemic.

Coun. Paul Allen said he is mulling over the possibility of a notice of motion to create a special task force to “come up with ideas for use and care of the property.” Allen said the task force would include members of council, local residents and neighbours.

“I’m still thinking about that,” he said.

Council also debated if using money from the parkland dedication fund was appropriate in this case. Some members of council argued in favour of using money from the Talisman property sale for the purchase.

The parkland dedication fund has a balance of $117,693, which would be reduced to $67,693 after the property’s purchase. The money from the sale of the Talisman lands has been placed in the municipality’s asset management plan reserve fund for future capital works.

“I’m hesitant to suggest we use our asset management reserve, which is underfunded at this time,” said coun. Tom Allwood.

McQueen disagreed.

“This is an asset. That’s where (the money) should come from. It’s everybody’s money,” he said.

Ultimately council voted 5-2 in favour of the resolution as it was written, with the money to come from the parkland dedication fund.

Wickens opposed the purchase of the property entirely.

“I really don’t like the idea of us buying it. We have absolutely no plan. Where are people going to park?” said Wickens. “I don’t think I can support it personally.”

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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