From the City today comes word of more court action, this time against the Board of Health to prevent them from moving forward with the construction of a new headquarters for the Health Unit, the funding for which would be entirely on the back of the City of Guelph. Typically, the province is responsible for 75 per cent of the costs incurred by the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit (reducing the City's share of the cost from $10 million to $2.5 million), but for some strange the province has refused to spend new money on infrastructure, leaving Guelph (and Orangeville) in a precarious position. Here's the press release:
GUELPH, ON, March 8, 2011 – The City of Guelph has started a court action requesting an injunction to stop the Board of Health from incurring costs related to the acquisition or construction of capital facilities or from entering into agreements to this end until the legal authority for the Board to do so is determined. The court action follows the City of Guelph's resolution to not support the Board of Health in its plans to proceed unilaterally with the construction or acquisition of a new headquarters.
The City of Guelph continues to believe the Board of Health does not have the authority to incur debt in the City's name without its consent. The cost to Guelph taxpayers, should the Board of Health proceed as planned, is $10 million. The impact on the City of Guelph's ability to fund other projects could be significant.
"Guelph City Council has agreed it will urge the Counties of Dufferin and Wellington to not support the Board of Health in proceeding with direct ownership of property," says Guelph's mayor Karen Farbridge. "We will be requesting the counties participate, along with the City, in meetings with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to discuss alternatives that would not jeopardize Provincial participation in funding accommodation costs or add to the City's debt."
The City has been clear about its opposition to funding $10 million in capital costs for the construction of a new building in Guelph without participation from the Province in funding a portion. The City has been working with the Board to assess other proposals since 2007.
Capital funds for new facilities were not part of Guelph's 2011 budget approved last week. The Board of Health withdrew from its scheduled opportunity to present its budget on February 15, thereby eliminating Guelph City Council's ability to ask questions and comment on the Board's capital plans.
While the City of Guelph acknowledges a new location is needed, it hopes an injunction will afford the chance to determine its legal obligations to fund these types of projects. The City is committed to exploring alternatives, and remains hopeful an alternative can be found.