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LETTER: Horseshoe Valley water issues 'simple, complex'

'The paying consumers aren’t concerned about legal complexities; they want an adequate supply of wholesome water,' says letter writer
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to 'LETTER: Zone 1 water in Horseshoe Valley not private,' published March 12. 

Your pipe is your problem.

The Horseshoe Valley water supply is simple and complex.

Oro-Medonte assumed the water supply for all Horseshoe Valley subdivisions (one large one in the Horseshoe Highlands excepted). 

The Zone 1 pressure area includes all subdivisions in the former Medonte Township, one subdivision in the former Oro Township, plus all the Horseshoe Resort water. The Zone 2 pressure area includes subdivisions in the Horseshoe Highlands.


Through bylaws the township provides municipal water. Medonte provided water for Zone 1 houses in 1982, when Bylaw 82-6 was passed. In this bylaw, Medonte “assumes the ownership of all the water mains, hydrants and services including the booster pumping station and all the related mechanical and electrical equipment serving residential lots in the subdivisions.” One subdivision in the Highlands excepted, the ownership was assumed for all Horseshoe Valley subdivisions. 


Mr. Herr’s March 12 letter states, “Zone 1 water in Horseshoe Valley is not private.” Technical information is added regarding agreements, easements, and property identification numbers. This is part of the more complex water story in Horseshoe Valley. Continuing, he states, correctly, that both Zone 1 and Zone 2 water users receive water from resort property wells. Moving water from private property to subdivisions requires agreements and easements. Resort properties’ agreements and easements are registered in the Land Titles Registry system.

The Municipal Act of 2001 authorizes municipalities to pass bylaws relating to public utilities, including water. Mr. Herr states, “The ministry says that this public utility has been providing water to both the ski resort and to neighbouring subdivisions since the early 1980s.”

So, why complex?

The Land Titles Registry contains numerous instruments relating to easements and agreements. In Medonte’s 1980 Water Rights Guarantee Agreement (WRGA), the parties embedded provisions for easements. In a 2001 easement instrument, legal documents indicate the resort was “subject to easements as set out in Instrument No. 37845.” That instrument is the WRGA. This very technical language shows that the WRGA, which is a contract, part of a municipal bylaw, was registered against the title of the resort’s inn property. In fact, the WRGA, as in Instrument No. 37845, is ever present throughout resort lands, included on the title of unit holders in the Slope Side condos and the elevated Zone 2 water tower on Highland Drive.

The water story in Horseshoe Valley became more complex and technical when provisions were established guaranteeing water to consumers — some through public mains, some through resort mains.

In early 2020, focus group volunteers from the subdivisions worked tirelessly to understand the complexities. Conclusion reached? The municipality assumed the supply in all but one of the subdivisions through which users in both zones receive their water.

The paying consumers aren’t concerned about legal complexities; they want an adequate supply of wholesome water.

The municipality’s responsibility is to sort out the contractual nuances. Mr. Herr’s letter outlines the three agreements that guarantee the delivery of water to Horseshoe Valley households. When a water main, valve or pump, etc., needs to be serviced, under the terms of the WRGA, the resort is responsible for providing that service. The resort has subcontracted this responsibility to third parties, Clearford Waterworks and Simcoe Sewer and Water. The required servicing must be done, in a timely manner.

The partnership between the township and the resort has existed for more than 40 years. Whether the water system in Horseshoe Valley is described as a public utility, a municipal utility, or a private utility is inconsequential. The Township of Oro-Medonte and Horseshoe Resort executed agreements whereby the resort agreed to operate, maintain, and repair the Zone 1 system in perpetuity. The WRGA was amended in 1982, stating, “Horseshoe Valley Resort is hereby deemed to be the lessee of the system … renewable automatically without further notice unless terminated by Medonte (now Oro-Medonte) by notice in writing.”

Through Freedom of Information requests, it appears that no termination notice was ever given, meaning that the agreements are still in force to this day.

Dave Lord