News

Boundary discussions discontinued between Woodstock and SWOX

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Boundary discussions between South-West Oxford (SWOX) and the City of Woodstock will not continue.

The city decided to end the talks with its Oxford County neighbour earlier this month, but both municipalities are still open to revisiting the topic at a later date.

SWOX Mayor David Mayberry wrote to Woodstock city council - and told the Sentinel-Review - township councillors are still willing to talk to the city about adjusting the boundaries.

"We want to sort of say, 'this is where we left the discussion, so that if it picks up in a month or a year's time everybody knows where we were at this point of departure,'" Mayberry said. "We're anticipating in the next few months they'll want to come back and talk again."

Mayberry said SWOX and Woodstock were close to agreeing on a few things, adding that discussions can resume when city officials decide the time is right.

"We're still willing to continue with the conversation," he said. "We're not trying to hurry it up or slow it down. We just want them to be aware that we're still open to discussions."

Boundary adjustment negotiations between SWOX and Woodstock began about a year ago. Woodstock CAO David Creery said there were a few reasons why the city decided to end the discussions for now.

"There are really two parts to it - one is financial and the other is strictly the terms of any agreement," Creery said. "On the financial side of things, the township has a belief that they should share in any future tax revenues from the new residential assessment that would be built on those lands."

The city CAO said this revenue-sharing is something that Woodstock has never done, adding there is an expectation with that request that the city should deliver services, and make a profit, because they would have to return a dividend every year in perpetuity.

"That's something the city has never simply done," the CAO said. "Our business is delivering services to the community and the residents ... In this case, there's a 12-per-cent ask, so we would have to overtax to deliver those services ... They're asking us to tax for a profit or a dividend, to return to them forever and they do nothing for it.

"It's essentially the legacy of it being formally within their boundary. There's an expectation that there's a continuing return for that legacy."

Creery said the city disagreed with this philosophically, adding there were other reasons the city decided to end discussions, including the proposed geography of the adjustment.

But the city does remain open to revisiting the discussions in the future.

"In our analysis, we believe that there is a need for additional residential land supply," Creery said. "No question. The amount of land that could be derived from the (SWOX) discussion is in and of itself not sufficient to meet our needs."

bchessell@postmedia.com