One way or another electricity is going to play a big part in Ontario politics over the next four years.

The Liberal Government at Queen’s Park is ready to part-privatise Hydro One to help fund the huge spending on transit infrastructure. And York Region is now looking at the future of electricity supply over the next twenty years as demand is projected to increase dramatically.

Here in Newmarket, we are living with the terrible mistake of not burying the hydro lines in Davis Drive even as it is being endlessly dug up, filled in and dug up again. For all the millions spent, Davis Drive will, unfortunately, retain the frontier town look with heavy cables hanging from unsightly hydro poles. The cost of burying hydro in the future will run to tens of millions of dollars.

We get our electricity from Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution, the company that was formed in 2006 with the merger of Newmarket Hydro and Tay Hydro. It is wholly owned by both municipalities.

You can see the presentation Paul Ferguson, the President of Newmarket Hydro Holdings, gave to the Town’s councillors back in February 2015 here. It is at the top of the agenda.

Directors’ Remuneration

The presentation is curiously silent of the question of directors’ remuneration which, from time to time, is a subject for comment in the blogosphere and twitterverse.

Does Tony Van Bynen, for example, accept remuneration for sitting on the Hydro Board even though he is there only by virtue of his position as Mayor of Newmarket? Sitting on the Hydro Board goes with the day job, so to speak.

Directors of Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd receive an annual retainer of $8,000 plus a per diem of $200 for attending Board of Director or Board Committee meetings. I am told that on average there are six Board and four Committee meetings per year bringing the annual remuneration to $10,000 for a full record of attendance.

Van Bynen waives the extra cash

I suspect Van Bynen waives the $10,000. He would not have made such a song and dance about the Toronto Star’s assessment of his alleged earnings if he was trousering on the side another $10,000.

It is though surprising that a former banker of 30 years standing, a man who lives and breathes figures,  originally claimed he was getting $151,000 – not $182,000 but by the time the Star published its correction his remuneration had drifted up to $159,856.

Unearthing old By-Laws

The authority for the directors’ remuneration can be traced back to a Newmarket by-law in 2000 but getting hold of this is not a straight forward matter. I am also told the remuneration has not been adjusted since that date. This commendable self denial comes at a price. The Bank of Canada inflation calculator tells me that $10,000 in 2000 is worth a $13,322 today.

For the future, surely, the remuneration of the Hydro Board’s directors should be reported to Newmarket councillors every year as a matter of course. It shouldn't be this difficult finding out who gets what.

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