Haliburton County council passed its 2021 budget last week.

County continues to investigate transportation options

By Chad Ingram

Haliburton County council continues to investigate options for some kind of public transportation system, and county staff are recommending that the county create a bylaw at the upper-tier level that would allow it to more easily enter into agreements with service providers.

During a Dec. 16 county council meeting, councillors heard from tourism director Amanda Virtanen, who noted staff had been in discussions with a shared-ride service provider who’d been interested in creating a pilot project for the county, geared toward tourists, which would have operated between May and October of 2020.

“As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the provider wasn’t able to continue discussions due to a lack of internal resources,” Virtanen said.

As a result, Virtanen said staff had then approached a different shared-ride service provider about the creation of a pilot project for the county, with the company providing a business plan for the county’s consideration.

That plan was discussed by county council during a closed session on Nov. 25. According to Virtanen’s report, the reason that discussion was held in-camera was that it met provincial criteria pertaining to, “a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization.”

“Since that November meeting, the company has revealed they’re launching into other markets and are not able to pursue opportunities with the County of Haliburton,” Virtanen told councillors. “So while there isn’t currently an active discussion with a shared-ride service provider, we do recommend investigating the development of a shared-ride service bylaw for 2021, which would enable future opportunities for county consideration should they arise.”

Councillors seemed comfortable with the idea.

“I’m in favour of this, but isn’t this one of 100 things that will flow from the service delivery review?” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin, referencing a review for the county and its lower-tier governments that was recently completed by consulting firm StrategyCorp.

“It might be,” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden Liz Danielsen.

County chief administrative officer Mike Rutter said he’d contact the CAOs of the four lower-tier municipalities regarding the matter.

County council previously voted against proceeding with a booked-ride transportation pilot project.