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- Hub staff

City Manager Wayne Ritchie has called a media conference for Wednesday, October 10 at 1 p.m. “to address concerns raised in the community regarding details surrounding the lease of the CP Station”.

A recent complaint to the City's Integrity Commissioner questions the ownership shares in a business on city property – the former CP Rail station. Mudtown Brewery and Restaurant, which leases the heritage CPR station on Owen Sound's east harbour, opened this spring. Shortly after, immediate family members of the Director of Community Services, Pam Coulter, purchased shares in the business. Councillor Brian O'Leary, Coulter's brother-in-law, and his son Andy O'Leary, also a City employee, purchased shares over the following few months.

A full report of the City's investment in renovations of the building, patio and parking lot has not yet been released. The upfront costs are to be recovered by the City from the rent, with an estimated break-even at 23.2 years. The lease is for 15 years, with the option of two five-year renewals. Maintenance costs for the property are shared between the owner and tenant, as per the lease agreement

Community response to Mudtown, our first new waterfront restaurant since the closure of the Rusty Gull, has been very positive. The City has been drawing attention to our harbourfront by featuring the Mudtown business in promotions by its tourism department, including the Visitors Guide, Harbourfest, Corkscrew City Tour, paid travel bloggers and sponsored Facebook posts.

Council candidates report questions about Mudtown as they are knocking on doors, and residents are reporting the answers from sitting council members.

For the City Manager to hold a press conference two days before voting begins in our municipal election is unprecedented. As Mr. Ritchie is the only direct employee of the Owen Sound City Council, he will not be in a position to speak to Councillor O'Leary's actions.

Neither Councillor O'Leary nor Ms. Coulter have made any public statement to date.

Full disclosure: The Editor of OwenSoundHub.org, Anne Finlay-Stewart, owns 1 share of Mudtown Brewery & Restaurant


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