By Mary Riley | May 27, 2010 | mykawartha.com
(LINDSAY) City of Kawartha Lakes councillors took a firm stance on two of the municipality’s hottest issues as they voted to stand behind small-town pharmacists and those opposed to proposed wind turbine developments.
The provincial government’s proposed changes to how pharmacies receive a provincial allowance that smaller pharmacies say threaten their very existence was first on the list. Council voted to support a letter from pharmacist Jeff May asking they lobby the provincial government on behalf of smaller, local pharmacies.
Ward 14 Councillor Ron Ashmore moved that council write to the province supporting Mr. May, saying he has a “real fear” of local pharmacies closing. Pharmacists have been vocal in opposition of the proposed changes, saying any cuts to the allowance they receive will reduce services available to residents and could result in fewer staff and, in some cases, pharmacies going out of business.
Ward 2 Coun. Emmett Yeo and Ward 10 Coun. Howard Robinson disagreed, saying the issue is a provincial issue and not one the city should get involved with, even in writing letters. Ward 13 Coun. Pat Warren agreed, saying both the pharmacists and the province “are in the middle of negotiations.” She said the province’s proposal (aimed at reducing the high cost Ontario pays for drugs) will “bring better services to rural areas” in the long run.
Ward 6 Coun. Doug Elmslie disagreed with that, saying those negotiations are “one-sided.” In supporting the motion, he noted that an $11 dispensing fee increased to $14 still represents a $3 loss to a pharmacist.
“We’re not talking about the big stores like Shoppers [Drug Mart],” he said, noting they stock enough other products to absorb the loss. “But, smaller pharmacies just can’t compete [with that].”
Ward 15 Coun. Gerald MacGregor said the city “needs to support local pharmacies…and, the only way to say we don’t like this” is to lobby the government.
Mayor Ric McGee also supported the motion, saying, “With apologies to Coun. Robinson, it is a municipal issue.”
Ward 16 Coun. Dave Marsh again championed the wind turbine debate as he moved council follow the lead of the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie and draft a bylaw to incorporate certain health and safety provisions relating to the location and building of wind turbines.
Arran-Elderslie invoked the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge the Green Energy Act.
(Coun. Marsh’s motion was split into two parts; one, council voted to support Arran-Elderslie “in principle” and two, also voted 13 to four to have staff draft a similar bylaw for the CKL.)
Ward 1 Coun. Lloyd Roberstons agreed to supporting the other municipality, but did not support the city’s creating its own bylaw at this time.
Ward 9 Coun. Andy Luff said, “We’re taking on the world, here.” While he didn’t support the motion, he said the municipality does need to look at the possibilities of wind power in other areas.
Ward 10 Coun. Howard Robinson did not support the motion “as worded.” But, he agreed the municipality should fight back against “another level of government dictating ‘this is what you’re going to do.’”
“This is about the right of property owners to determine the use of their land…and, the rights of the municipality,” he said.
Ward 3 Coun. David Hodgson, referring to the letter from Arran-Elderslie, said he had “a problem supporting a four-page rant.’ Ward 13 Coun. Pat Warren said she’d rather see wind (turbines) than coal or nuclear plants in the city.
But, Coun. Marsh said the province could, at any time, decide such plants be set up in the city.
“There is nothing good about this (wind turbines),” he said. “We have to push back…and, if you don’t think you can take on the world, you shouldn’t be in this chamber.”