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‘Great partnership’: Bradford, Innisfil to explore shared services

Bradford council authorizes staff to begin conversations with Town of Innisfil and InnServices representatives

Two South Simcoe municipalities are set to explore ways to become closer than ever.

Bradford West Gwillimbury (BWG) council approved a recommendation from Mahesh Ramdeo, Bradford’s new deputy chief administrative officer (CAO), authorizing town staff to begin conversations with the Town of Innisfil and their municipally-owned water utility, InnServices, to preserve and expand the “critical” water supply for Bradford, while also looking for other cross-border servicing opportunities, during the June 4 regular council meeting.

Ward 3 Coun. Ben Verkaik agreed with the need to expand the town’s water supply in order to meet the provincial mandate of building 6,500 new homes by 2031, and suggested looking at opportunities with New Tecumseth and Collingwood on their new water treatment facility as well, but questioned the wording of preservation.

Officially appointed as the deputy CAO during the April 16 meeting of council, effective as of March 25, Ramdeo explained the town’s current agreement with InnServices guarantees a certain amount of water to Bradford, but they’re also looking to expand to other municipalities in South Simcoe.

“The idea about preservation is for us to have a seat at the table ... so that allocation is not considered in any other way except to BWG,” he said. “At this point in time we don’t have that voice.”

Bradford currently sources about 60 per cent of its drinking water, roughly 2,197,087 cubic metres, from InnServices and the Innisfil Lake Simcoe Water Filtration plant each year, an amount which has steadily increased since the municipalities entered into a cost-sharing and water-allocation agreement in September 2003.

“Innisfil and Bradford West Gwillimbury have been working together for years to supply clean and safe water to our residents," Innisfil CAO and InnServices chair Oliver Jerschow said in a statement. "As our communities continue to grow, we look forward to working together to explore servicing solutions that will serve both communities well."

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott said that Bradford is “not merely a customer” of InnService, since the town helped fund the construction of the water treatment plant, and as such “ought to function much more like a partner.”

“I wouldn’t like the status quo to continue where a neighbouring municipality that’s also growing has full control over an asset that we helped build,” he said.

Verkaik also asked what the other opportunities could be, and while Ramdeo confirmed the main point of discussion at this point in time is the water supply, he also explained the other opportunities could involve shared information and other services to help prepare for growth.

Mayor James Leduc said Bradford has “a great partnership with Innisfil,” noting the South Simcoe Police Service, and used snow clearing as an example of where that partnership could potentially be expanded.

“The one thing that bothers me the most is when I see a plow hit that imaginary line and it lifts up its blade,” he said. “It’s great when we can share the costing of certain things and create opportunities for everybody to be more efficient. That’s what it’s all about.”

Ward 6 Coun. Nickolas Harper had his doubts.

“You’re way more optimistic that Innisfil will want to do anything with us,” he said. “I’d be happy if they come back to offer any of these resolution that you guys are hopeful for, but I’m not optimistic on it.”

Bradford CAO Geoff McKnight clarified the two municipalities have been working together “for years,” and the formal authorization for further discussions follows Innisfil council’s decision during their May 8 meeting to review the organizational structure of the town’s utilities.

Staff are expected to report back on the discussions with Innisfil at a later date.

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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