In Guelph, the debate is over: Guelph Hydro, the city’s publicly owned electrical utility, is not for sale.
Guelph City Council voted 8-5 against a possible sale of the utility after months of deliberations that included open houses, a telephone poll and an online survey. Community members opposed to the sale had arrived at the February meeting concerned about the vote after a five-member committee exploring the future of the utility had recommended actively pursuing a sell-off.
But after hours of spirited debate, Council took that option off the table.
Councillors who spoke against the idea included Mike Salisbury, who said he had a "nagging concern" about the committee’s recommendation to sell. He described it as based on an assumption "that the solution that we're chasing is better than the status quo, and I haven't been able to really get to a place where I've been able to find that."
Councillor Bob Bell agreed. “Under no condition do I want to lose control of our electric utility,” he said. “I also believe that's what the majority of residents of our community feel."
In the end, Guelph City Council voted to explore the possibility of a merger, but only with another publicly owned utility.
Janice Folk-Dawson of the Guelph and District Labour Council echoed many at the meeting when she spoke in favour of maintaining public ownership of the utility.
“Guelph Hydro is publicly owned, publicly accountable,” she said. “It serves the community interests because we own it.”