by Mayor Nancy Peckford
On October 22, residents and business leaders in North Grenville voted for significant change. In order to enact that change, your new municipal Council and administration must work differently than in the past. Your mayor and council enthusiastically embrace the challenge.
Since the election, your new council has already been working collaboratively to build a foundation for that change. This is because we see the incredible opportunity we have to invest in a very special place, and in each other.
As residents and business leaders, you can look forward to more opportunities to help steer how we do business in North Grenville, how we operate as a municipality and how we seize opportunities to ensure our community promotes a high quality of life while being fiscally responsible.
As a new council, starting in January 2018, we plan to host a town hall every month, in addition to regularly scheduled council meetings. These town hall meetings will be convened once a month in different hamlets & locations throughout the year. Your new Council will also change the day on which Council and Committee of the Whole meetings will be held – from Mondays to Tuesdays to make them a little more accessible.
Further, we will amplify efforts to use other forms of communications, such as social media to give more opportunities to people who cannot physically attend. During the election, a number of issues were consistently raised in discussions at the doorsteps, in coffee shops and in debates.
Your new council has already begun thinking about how to address some of the issues. To that end, we will be creating a Council-specific work plan that will reflect urgent priorities, and guide our decision-making as we assume our new responsibilities. This will ensure that issues like road safety, access to parks, culture and recreation, a positive business environment, affordability and transparency remain at the forefront of our shared agenda.
Also, as I personally committed during the election campaign, I am pleased to confirm that your new Council has already requested that municipal staff review the scheduled 2% increase for the 2019 municipal budget to determine if it is, in fact, absolutely necessary.
A Council-specific work plan will not only serve as a way for you to hold your new Council accountable but will be a bridge to the community strategic planning process that will be launched early in the New Year. This community strategic plan will be a crucial opportunity to create a five year plan for which your perspectives and ideas will be required.
Finally, I want you to be the first to know about some exciting initiatives on the horizon. In January, I will be establishing a Mayoral task force on affordable housing. During my campaign, this issue was top of mind for so many concerned residents who are directly or indirectly affected.
We must find a way to ensure that no young person finds themselves homeless in our community; young families have the room they need to grow; and that seniors — who have raised families here and made invaluable contributions over decades, can afford to stay in North Grenville.
I will also be establishing a Youth Advisory Council that will facilitate opportunities to provide advice and guidance to me as Mayor, my Council colleagues as well as key municipal committees. If youth are our future, which no one would deny they are, we are in urgent need of their insights and perspectives.
Your new Council also plans to the establish the agricultural and rural affairs committee, to honour North Grenville’s deep rural roots and ensure that the voices of our hamlets and rural residents are fully heard. Finally, we will be carefully reviewing the plan for the Kemptville College to ensure it fulfills its objective as a community asset, and place for agricultural innovation.
There is no doubt that your new Council has an ambitious agenda, which has been directly informed by the experiences and concerns of so many residents and business leaders. No doubt, this agenda will evolve. But if enacted in concert with all of you, this agenda has the potential to make our already great community even better. But in order for that to happen, we need your ongoing collaboration, and engagement. We simply can’t do this alone.
While I am unlikely to be the perfect mayor all of the time to all of the people, I fully commit to giving it my very best effort each and every day. And I will expect that of my Council colleagues – and from all of you. So, let’s get started.