Lakeshore Council To Continue With Private Owner For Service Ontario Centre

Lakeshore Council has rejected a motion to have the provincial government take over the Belle River Service Ontario Centre.

The privately-operated centre has had two owners in the last four years and, while neither was able to turn a profit, council is hoping to keep it in private hands. The previous owner retired after forty years.

Finding a new operator has been slow going, according to Deputy Mayor Al Fazio. He recommended the government take control but many of his council colleagues feel the move is the first step towards the province eliminating the location completely.

Fazio told AM800 News previous owners struggled to make a profit, and that's scaring away others. "The unfortunate thing is there's really not a business plan to make money on this thing. It's going to be difficult to keep it open in the private sector."

Fazio believes a government-run location would bring better hours and stability to the Belle River office. "It's a little bit more stable if the government took it over and paid some fair wages. If they can make it, then why are they only paying a $1.50 per permit to the private sector," says Fazio. "You know, that's the $1-million question. We have interest in it, but unfortunately the business plan doesn't make sense for these people."

Fazio says having a Service Ontario Centre in Belle River isn't just a convenience, it's a necessity. "Lakeshore's growing. We have like 35,000 plus people in the area and we need that service. There's no other Service Ontario in Lakeshore. I think it's a vital asset that we need in town."

The nearest Service Ontario Centre is in Tilbury or Tecumseh.