The Sauble Community School agreement is on the September 2 agenda – again.
This is my fourth commentary about the Sauble school agreement.
Previously I indicated that the 1995 to 2014 agreement between TSBP and the school board was and is very favourable to the taxpayers of TSBP, and to the students.
I also indicated that there is a clause in the contract that allows us the right to unilaterally renew the agreement for 20 years:
“Either party hereto shall have the privilege of renewing this agreement for a further term of 20 years upon the same conditions as are contained herein”. …. Such renewal must be requested in writing within six (6) months of the expiry date of this agreement.”
I recommended that we exercise.
Mr. Close and Mr. Turner have claimed that we don’t have a right to unilaterally renew because, according to them, a “privilege of renewing” is not the same as a “right to renew”. Mr. Close also claimed that the renewal window was the six months prior to the July 1 end of the current contract, and not six months after.
But they did agree to get a legal opinion.
And it appears that the legal opinion is contrary to that of Mr. Close and Mr. Turner.
Ms. Farrow-Lawrence’s September 2 report summarizes the legal opinion as follows:
“Either party has the unilateral right to renew the old agreement for a further 20 years and can do so up to January 1, 2015.”
That seems to be very clear. So given that the agreement is very favourable to the taxpayers, (and to the students), and that the legal opinion is that the agreement is unilaterally renewable, you would think that council would just unilaterally renew, meaning just tell the school board that the agreement is renewed for another twenty years.
So what does staff recommend? They seem to want to pass on this great opportunity. They seem to want to pass on the unilateral renewal option, and instead negotiate a new agreement more favourable to the school board, and far less favourable to the residents.
Here, from Farrow-Lawrence’s September 2 report, is a hint of the reason:
“Should the town exercise this [unilateral renewal] option, the Board would likely challenge it and there is no guarantee what a court would say.”
This is ridiculous.
One there is absolutely no reason to believe that the board would take it to court. What could the school board possibly sue the town for?
For exercising a legitimate option? It would never make it to trial.
For breach of contract? Not a chance.
The school board would have to be insane to try to take the town to court for exercising a legitimate unilateral privilege.
Contrary to the Farrow-Lawrence report, it is entirely predictable what the courts would say. They would say “dismissed – no reasonable cause of action”.
No one can go to court only because they’re not entirely happy about the deal that has been made by both parties acting in good faith. To go to court one has to identify an unwarranted injury or damage. There is neither here.
We should quit wasting so much time trying to come up with a better deal for the school board (and worse for us). Council’s responsibility and allegiance are to the residents, not the school board.
We should exercise the privilege. We should unilaterally renew the agreement. For the residents. And for the students.