MPP Liz Sandals went missing when Guelph bid for a separate public health unit

Judge David Price almost closed the door on the city’s attempt to halt spending $12 million for the Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health Unit’s new headquarters.

Mayor Karen Farbridge stoutly rejected the unilateral decision by the public health board to spend $17 million on its new headquarters and a satellite branch in Orangeville.  Guelph must pay 70 per cent of the unit’s capital costs.

Despite differences with Mayor Farbridge, I’m with her all the way on this one.

As usual, the judiciary followed the law to the letter. The joker is the law was changed in 2001 denying any member of a municipal consortium involved in a Public Health Unit to leave without permission of the province.

Guelph’s motion was to allow the city to opt out of the WDG unit and establish its own public health unit. Judge Price denied this. While he was sympathetic that the city was being forced to pay $12 million, he was unmoved. He suggested the Health Unit board should have approached city council to discuss their plans, something that did not occur.

Liz Sandals was aware of this yet failed to defend her hometown interests because, we presume, she was involved in getting re-elected. One can surmise two things: Either Sandals has little respect at Queen’s Park or she was afraid she might lose the election.

It is mindful of Brian Mulroney challenging Prime Minister John Turner over approving the patronage appointments made by Pierre Trudeau in the dying days of his tenure: “Mr. Turner you had a choice.”

Liz Sandals had a choice to support the city’s position or protect her legislature seat. Now we know what choice she made.

Mayor Farbridge says the city will request the province to appoint an assessor to review the proposal. Ruefully she admits that this request was made early in the process and it was refused.

This represents a huge blow to city finances as it does not have $12 million lying around.

Chances of this being overturned are next to nil.

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