Beer fiasco threatens Tiverton Reunion

Meeting turns ugly, deputy mayor threatened

By Kiel Edge

Kincardine council’s decision to can a recommendation from the Tiverton Reunion committee caused an uproar that could jeopardize the future of the event.

More than half of the Reunion’s organizing committee resigned from their posts June 3 after council voted down the committee’s suggestion to use cans during the August reunion.

“The remaining committee members still prefer cans that are  poured into glasses,” councillor Randy Roppel said following a 15-minute meeting with the committee outside the Municipal Administration Centre. “If you’se (sic) don’t want to reconsider, the rest of the committee will likely collapse. I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting summer.”

The committee presented council with a report detailing the three proposals it received for supplying the event’s beer. Steelback, Labatt’s and Molson were the only companies who responded to the request for proposals.

A committee of six reviewed the bids and used a weighted system to determine which company offered the best deal. The weighting system made a company’s use of cans the most important factor in their bid.

The committee recommended Labatt be awarded the contract at a total cost of more than $25,000.  The proposal recommended the reunion purchase 1,120 15-pack cases of Budweiser and Bud Light. The company also promised a $2,000 donation to the reunion committee if its bid was accepted.

Steelback does not serve its beer in cans. The company’s proposal offered 100 kegs of draught beer at a cost of $212.31 each. The brewery also planned to donate equipment to use for free and make a $2,000 donation to the reunion. No other proposal offered free equipment rental.

The committee was steadfast in its recommendation that cans be used throughout the reunion. The South Bruce OPP said in the report that the detachment does not recommend the use of cans during the event, but Roppel said cans make the most sense for the committee.

“Cans are recyclable, they can be returned for deposit and the pull tabs can be used to make wheelchairs,” Roppel said. “The OPP, that’s just their take on things; I don’t have any fear what-so-ever in respect to using cans.”

Deputy mayor Laura Haight, who chaired last summer’s Kincardine Reunion, is opposed to using cans.  She said, considering the type of event and the demographic of the people who will be attending, it would make sense to eliminate risk and use draught beer and plastic cups.

“Why wouldn’t you look at eliminating that risk?” Haight said. “This is not a Labatt or Steelback issue, it’s just that cans aren’t the way to go.”

Councillor Marsha Leggett, also a member of the organizing committee, said the plastic beer cups and other objects can still be dangerous under the right circumstances.

“I wish I had a (plastic cup) here so I could show Laura how I’d cut her throat with a cup,” Leggett said. “They have sharp edges (and are just as dangerous) as cans.

“That’s a ridiculous comment to make,” said Haight.

The Kincardine Reunion used cans poured into cups for its events at Victoria Park. Haight said those events attracted an older crowd and said there were no major problems. The Kincardine organizing committee did not serve beer in cans on the beach, Haight said.

Members of the reunion committee in attendance began shouting in Haight’s direction during her recounting of the Kincardine event’s take on cans. Following her comments several members left the meeting and did not return.

Several councillors asked Roppel why the committee recommended Labbatt’s bid, despite the fact that it was significantly more expensive than Steelback’s proposal. He said the price was the lowest rated aspect of each bid.

“With all due respect,” he said. “The preference is cans.”

The six members of council present for the vote, Leggett, Haight, Roppel, Ken Craig, Ron Hewitt and Mayor Larry Kraemer split on the motion. A tied vote means it fails.

Following the vote, a recess was requested. Roppel and his committee met outside the doors to the building and had a lengthy discussion. Once the meeting resumed, it was decided that the committee has one week to review their proposal. The matter is being further discussed at tonight’s (Wednesday’s) council meeting.

Members of the Tiverton reunion committee declined to speak with the media following council’s decision as they headed out of the building.


Beer is not the only reunion issue still remaining to be solved.

A report from the committee to council June 3 said organizers have yet to choose a security firm for the event.

The Reunion committee budgeted $40,000 for security during its initial planning. Municipal procedure requires that groups ask for requests for tender proposals when the total cost is that high.