‘Disappointed’: Sale of Perthmore corridor will not move forward

Ray Hook standing in front of the Perthmore corridor fence/no trespassing sign.
Ray Hook looks down the Perthmore corridor from the edge of his property in Perth. The town decided at the council meeting on May 21 that they would not sell the easement to the adjacent property owners. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: May 22, 2024

After a 3-3 vote, motion is defeated; mayor abstains


Landowners along the Perthmore corridor in Perth will not have the opportunity to purchase a small slice of the easement after council voted to deny the sale of it during a regular meeting on May 21. 

With three in favour of the sale, councillors Isabel Anne McRae, Jim Boldt and Dept. Mayor Ed McPherson, and three against, councillors Barry Smith, Gary Waterfield, and David Bird changing his vote from the previous meeting, the motion was defeated with the tie vote. Mayor Judy Brown abstained from the issue as she declared a conflict of interest. 

The land in question has been a bone of contention for property owners along the corridor and those who have used it as a pathway. The issue has entangled the community and left two terms of councillors flip-flopping on a decision to keep it open, make it accessible to all, close it, or sell it. 

On May 8, the issue to sell the land to the adjacent landowners was brought back to the council table by Coun. Isabel Anne McRae during a committee of the whole meeting. She said six property owners were prepared to purchase this easement, and two are not. The town would have access to the utilities along the easement.

Ray and Elaine Hook are adjacent property owners and would have liked the opportunity to purchase a portion of the easement. 

“We, as affected property owners, are quite happy to purchase the land and to have it recognized (for a second time mind you!) as an easement, with the only right of way to enter the property being for the adjacent property owners or municipal staff as required for maintenance of public utilities.”  

Hook said that with the property being an easement, they knew that they couldn’t develop this property in any way, but that wasn’t the issue. 

“The issue is having the creation of the peace and quiet and unfettered enjoyment of our properties,” he said. “The easement strip of land is approximately three metres wide, and it would be divided between the two adjoining properties, which isn’t very much land at all. But with ownership, it would return our peace of mind! We would all continue to integrate these small strips of land into our yards for grass cutting and weeding purposes, as we have done for many years already.”

During the council meeting discussion, Bird said he changed his mind. 

Accessing land owned by someone else is an issue for him, he said. 

“We declared it an easement; we didn’t go either way on it. I cannot go forward with this because I’m not prepared to reverse that decision by council.”

Bird said he felt it would only create further problems down the road. 

“So, heads-up … I’m changing my vote.”

Coun. Jim Boldt disagreed “respectfully,” with Bird saying they’re trying to put some closure on a long-term issue. 

“It’s closed. The barriers are up. By selling the adjacent lands to the majority of landowners who are directly affected by it, we are bringing closure to the whole thing,” Boldt said, “and washing our hands of having to deal with it in the future.”

With respect to accessing the property for repair to underground infrastructure, Boldt said there are easements that will allow them to do that, “like on many other easements in this town.”

Coun. McRae said it would cost too much to create an accessible pathway, and “the only way to do that would be to buy property from people living on both sides of it. The likelihood of that ever happening is almost impossible.”

McRae also noted that they have already received a legal opinion who suggested that they move forward with the sale, “and that’s why I brought this motion forward at the last meeting.”

Bird reiterated that the “matter was solved” by council that this corridor would be an easement. 

“That was it,” he said. “That was the decision. We have reopened it, and we will be taking a side — one position or another. Whether you like to admit it or not, that’s the fact of the situation.” 

Because the motion was defeated, the easement will remain the property of the town, and will remain closed. 

“We do hope that the town will now re-assume the responsibility to regularly maintain the maintenance of the easement properties that we adjacent property owners have been doing for the past number of years, to avoid the grounds becoming an eyesore,” Hook added. “We are obviously disappointed with the vote, but we are somewhat placated with the official easement status finally being recognized as town property.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News