Another chapter has been written in the saga concerning the Cochrane DSSAB and funding models.

It was revealed Wednesday that Timmins will resume their payments to the DSSAB, though are doing so ‘under protest.’

Timmins city council voted unanimously in support, minus Councillors Veronica Farrell and Rick Dubeau, who were not in attendance.

Mayor Steve Black says doing so under protest allows the city to demonstrate to the province that they aren’t happy with the current formula, and the fact that the province froze any kind of alterations—like the one passed by the Cochrane DSSAB via a double-majority in March 2017—from taking effect until at least the end of 2018.

Black says they passed a resolution earlier to seek legal advice on the matter. But for now, they feel resuming payments is the best course of action.

“(Resuming payments) allow (the DSSAB) to function while we resolve those matters.”

The Mayor mentions there’s been a couple times council has set dates to withhold payments.

Throughout it all though, Black adds they haven’t missed a payment.

He did express some frustration over the province’s decision. He says the local DSSAB went from getting direction from the province in writing to look at the funding model change to having the province freeze changes anyway. This, even after the Cochrane DSSAB a and after going through the process—as well as make concessions to wait until 2018 to give towns a chance to adjust—the province froze them out anyway.

“If the province would’ve stepped in and did (the DSSAB Act review) Day 1, I think we all could’ve (been satisfied in waiting for the review recommendations),” Black said.

“I think it’s discouraging for all members who have been working on a funding formula change.”

Right now, the control is with the province. But there’s more questions being asked in terms of timelines.

The review recommendations aren’t expected to be released until after the June election. Black says this move by the province is “only political in nature.”

“Honestly, if you’re going to make the changes, you should put them out before you go to the people to be re-elected and let people know what those changes are.”

Black later states the province has all the information they need—including reviews from consultants, DSSAB’s have been consulted and allowed to weigh in on the issue and cities have been able to take part and give their point of view.

“There’s really nothing left to do but analyze that data and come up with the changes to the Act,” he said, “I think it would be the prudent thing to do that before the next provincial election.”

It also creates a sense of uncertainty, because who knows how the provincial election is going to go and if the Liberals will even be in power after June 7, 2018.

“If there’s a change in government, we may not see any changes,” Black says.

Any changes would be welcomed by the Timmins Mayor, whether it’s a change to the formula, the way funding is distributed among the DSSAB or even allowing larger centres to operate their own services and smaller centres controlling their own under a DSSAB structure.

There is also concern this issue could drag by the fall municipal elections too.

“If you see large changes throughout the DSSAB district in municipal representatives, then the incoming ones will have no idea what’s transpired in the past three years, what the issues are and we’re starting over from scratch again, provided we have some members there to continue our point of view.”

Filed under: Local News