Bunkhouse inspection fees under review in Norfolk

Share Adjust Comment Print

Changes could be coming to the way the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit manages bunkhouse inspections.

As it stands, the health unit charges a flat rate of $101 per farm, regardless of how many bunkhouses it has.

At October’s meeting of the Norfolk and Haldimand Board of Health, Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp said the fee schedule is due for an adjustment.

“Clearly, there’s some inequity that’s been going on with this for years,” said Chopp, who is chair of the board of health.

Chopp’s comments came after an Oct. 6 presentation to the board from Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt.

Speaking by way of video link, Hewitt said Haldimand council is of the opinion that bunkhouse inspections should be performed on a cost-recovery basis. He said Haldimand council has difficulty with the idea of Haldimand taxpayers paying for a function that is largely discharged in Norfolk County.

Charlotteville Coun. Chris VanPaassen isn’t convinced that cost-recovery is the way to go. The essence of government in Canada, VanPaassen said, is collective action. He said there are countless ways citizens pay for public services they themselves don’t consume.

VanPaassen cited the example of rural electrification in Ontario 100 years ago.

“It’s a basic principle of the society we’ve lived in for the past 150 years,” VanPaassen said. “Every person in Toronto paid a penny a month on their hydro bill so that guy at the end of the rural road could have electricity. It’s a fundamental principle of how we live.”

Norfolk staff will discuss the issue with the county’s agricultural advisory board.

There are 600 bunkhouses in Norfolk and Haldimand. Each year, the health unit performs about 900 inspections.

Because Norfolk has a larger population than Haldimand, Norfolk council serves as the board of health for both municipalities. Hewitt has participated in board meetings in a non-voting capacity since the spring due to ongoing issues with the COVID-19 pandemic.