by Deron Johnston
For many people that I know, it seemed that 2017 was very difficult and challenging. Instead of looking at the coming year as a kind of “nowhere to go but up” situation, I look at it from the standpoint that, because of 2017, a lot of people learned difficult lessons, got stronger through overcoming adversity, and did a lot of heavy lifting to set the table for 2018. Keeping all of this in mind, I’m very optimistic for a “bounce-back” year in 2018.
The following list is a short compilation of items that would be great to see happen in 2018.
The renewal of Kemptville Campus. This was an easy one, right? What won’t be easy is to make this project a sustainable one that will provide direct economic benefit to residents and businesses in both the short-term and long-term. With so little information made available, it has been difficult, at best, to accept the “Trust us, this is gonna be great” position coming from municipal staff and council. What may become the most important decision (that residents may actually get some information about), is: who will be chosen by council to make up the Board of the non-profit organization that they have decided will guide this project. The project may very well succeed, or not succeed, based on the decisions of this Board (which may be limited by the conditions of the deal that they are given to work with by the municipality).
An overwhelming change in the composition of our municipal council in the next municipal election in October. We are in serious need of a culture change at the Municipal Centre. Municipal staff are often put in the unfortunate position of providing information and recommendations, and sometimes must make decisions (council must still vote on everything to make it official) because of a lack of leadership, strategic vision, and understanding of what is happening in their own community on the part of council. The current political culture of “if you don’t do anything, nothing can go wrong and you’ll get re-elected” is limiting, both our economic and social potential.
The quick completion of the Mental Health Hub at the Kemptville District Hospital. This past year saw the hospital searching for a Project Manager on a full-time temporary contract for the creation of a Mental Health Hub. There is a dire need for additional mental health services across Canada. As it stands, many North Grenville residents must either go to Brockville or Ottawa for their mental health care needs. This type of resource would be essential to the many people in need in the area.
The realization that agriculture, tourism, and local food represent significant opportunities as economic drivers for North Grenville, and that they need to be fostered and encouraged. There are existing people and businesses that can contribute to this, they should be brought together and consulted with to accomplish this. Creating a committee dedicated to this initiative would be a good start.
The acknowledgement that our young people are a wonderful asset, and that finding ways to cultivate them to become future leaders is not only a good idea, but essential for the long-term health of the community. Watching many of them leave North Grenville for post-secondary education and for better employment opportunities is like watching our future slowly evaporate in front of our eyes.
Some must learn to put aside personal grievances, pettiness, and selfish behaviours to work together to build a stronger community for everyone. There are still too many tiny castles and kings/queens that sometimes make it difficult to move forward with things that would benefit all of us. This simply must stop. Smaller municipalities are having enough difficulty dealing with external pressures and problems. When opportunities are missed or blocked because of these selfish people, we all lose.
All of these things are possible for us in 2018. In North Grenville, we are blessed with a strong volunteer base, a treasure chest full of human assets, and a spirit of generosity that other communities can only dream about. Simply put, when we work together, we can literally accomplish anything. Let’s make this the year that, while other communities around us may falter, we become what we’ve been hoping for.