Petrolia admits $200K mistake, says developer will pay the cost

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Heather Wright
The Independent

All Norm Sutherland wanted was an explanation.
But he was having a hard time getting it.
The long-time Petrolia Council observer asked in September about the purchase of some land in the Giampietri subdivision. He wanted to know how much it cost and why it was done.
Council didn’t directly answer Sutherland.
So Monday, he returned to council. Sutherland, who was an engineer who helped create over 80 subdivisions in his time, said he was shocked that the town would pay for about 2,000 square meters of land for an “enormous amount of money” when in most subdivision agreements – all that he has worked on – transfer land for $1 instead.
Council did not say at the time how much was paid for the land, telling Sutherland the amount would show up in the accounts listing. Later town officials pointed to the municipal bylaw which was passed in August which said the town paid $200,000 for the land.
“This should have never happened,” says Sutherland.
Sutherland wanted to know why the fees weren’t worked out in 1992 – when Mayor Brad Loosley was the clerk.
Loosley says the town went into negotiations with the subdivider.
Councillor Joel Field, who sits on a committee overseeing development, says the developer approached the town.
He says a mistake was made at the time in 1992. But he said council purchased the land to move another development ahead to the north of Giampietri’s subdivision.
And he says the money the town paid will be returned to the town in development fees from the new developer to the north.
Councillor Marty Souch put it another way. “That was our entrance to progress…now we are going to have another subdivision on the go.”
Sutherland appreciated Field’s explanation and hoped the town – which has hundreds of lots in development – will make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Sutherland complained that the council wasn’t as transparent as many had promised during 2018. And he laid blame on The Independent, saying it didn’t report what was going on at Petrolia council like it used to.
Sutherland said he was simply trying to find out what was going on for the taxpayer.