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The Review

Message from Mayor Alar Soever

Posted On: Monday, December 3, 2018

Members of Council, staff, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the 2018 inaugural meeting of Council. I am truly honoured and humbled that so many of you have come out today. It shows how much you care about our great community.

Message from Mayor Alar Soever

Thank you for coming and participating in our inauguration and showing your support for your new Council. I would like to begin by congratulating every member of Council on their election. During the campaign, and over the last few weeks, I have gotten to know them all and I can truly say that we have a very strong Council that is prepared to work hard together to achieve great things for our community.

I would also like to also acknowledge the candidates who put their names forward but did not get elected. Some of them are here with us today. Paula Hope, John White, Michael Martin, Paul Mitchell, and David Wilding-Davies. It is not an easy thing to commit to running. I can truly say one of the best things about the campaign was getting to know them and working with them on initiatives for the greater good. I hope to find ways in which they can contribute, as we work together for our community.

I also acknowledge the past council for the work they did over the last term. Bob Gamble and Michael Martin are here with
us today. They deserve our thanks for their many years of service. Last, but not least I would like to thank our staff, led by our Interim CAO Shawn Everitt, for the work they did during the election, and the work they do every day for our Town.

Our community is endowed with great natural features, the escarpment and the waters of Georgian Bay, which provide us
with great recreational opportunities and a microclimate which makes us a great agricultural area. We are also blessed to
have People that care passionately about our Town, and who have created community initiatives such as the Beaver
Valley Outreach, the Marsh Street Centre and many other community organizations. It is this combination of natural features and fantastic people that make our community a great place to live, work, run a business, raise a family, and retire.

During the campaign I addressed three themes:
1) Trust
2) Responsible Government
3) Managing Change

Trust is something that must be earned, and is easily lost. Without trust very little can be accomplished. Trust is earned through communicating and understanding each other. Our new Communications committee will play an important role. We will work to earn your trust by being accessible to you. I will encourage Council to be out in the community and I will hold monthly meet the Mayor meetings in various parts of our Town. We will listen to you and you will know what we are  doing. Closed door meetings will be reduced to an absolute minimum. Over the coming weeks, starting tomorrow, Council will be attending a series of orientation sessions, to educate us on various legislation. These will be largely open to the public, and I encourage those of you who are interested to attend so you can understand the legislation and rules we
operate under.

Responsible Government
The way that we operate will be based on professionalism not politics. We will be hardworking, creative, transparent, open, and accountable. To this end, I am recommending to Council that we review our Procedural Bylaw, to bring forward changes which will make the way we operate more transparent and accountable. These will include recording all votes of Council, so you know how each of us voted on every issue. I will also recommend that we have any closed meetings recorded and securely archived so that if there is ever any question as to whether they were proper, there is a record for the Ombudsman, who is our closed meeting investigator, to refer to. I will also be recommending to Council that we look at our various Committees and make sure there is at least one member of Council on each. This member will then report back to Council and champion the committee’s activities.

Managing Change
The things that make our community great have in the past, and continue to today, attract people to it. The rapid growth we are experiencing is forever changing the face of our Town and its social fabric. Some long-time residents feel they are
being pushed aside, and that they have been ignored and abandoned by Council. Similarly, recent arrivals who moved here to enjoy a peaceful retirement in an all seasons community, are finding the unique character of the place they have just moved to under threat. Growth is inevitable, but it must be managed properly, so that we shape our community into what we, and not others, want it to be. We must clearly convey our vision for our community to developers, businesses, and residents who want to move here, so they have realistic expectations of what they will be able to build and operate here. If their proposals will add value to our community, we should work with them so that both they and our Town can thrive and prosper. The need to have, convey, and work toward a clear vision of the future of our Town was identified as key during the election. All candidates agreed on the need to update our historic vision documents, Red, Hot and Blue and the Sustainable Path, and to incorporate that vision into our Official Plan and other planning documents. To this end we will be bringing back the Sustainability Committee to, together with the community, update the vision in those documents, and to develop an action plan with measurable performance objectives to achieve that vision. As the new Council, we will also be working
with our Planning Staff to make sure that the public is better informed of proposed development proposals and developers are advised earlier of public concerns, and what they need to do to tailor their developments to our community.

Key issues we need to deal with on a priority basis are attainable housing, and transportation.  While some may argue these are the responsibility of other levels of government, if we do not take the lead in dealing with these issues in cooperation with the other levels of government our community will suffer. Rapid growth and soaring real estate prices have pushed our community to the breaking point. With no attainable housing for young families with modest incomes, there is a labour shortage and jobs are going unfilled. Help wanted signs can be seen in almost every store window. If we don’t do something to make sure that people who grew up here can afford to stay and live here, and young families can afford to move here, soon the businesses that we rely on like the pharmacy, the grocery store, doctor’s offices, restaurants, etc. will not be
able to find staff, will become unsustainable, and our community will cease to be liveable.

I am pleased that through our Attainable Housing Corporation, an action plan is being put together to bring together the
policies, financing, and private sector partnerships which will allow us to move forward in an aggressive way to create
affordable and attainable housing. We will also be establishing a transportation Committee to address transportation issues, and to develop a Town wide transportation plan which addresses, agricultural needs, bicycling, and alternatives to widening Highway 26.

Clearly we have a lot on our plate in the coming months. As well we will be addressing the 2019 budget, the Cannabis
question, and the normal business that comes before us. I am confident we have the skills and energy on Council, in our Staff, and in our Community at large to work together and to achieve success in addressing these issues. 

I look forward to getting started and accomplishing a lot in the next four years. I will now ask each of the Councillors to say
a few words.

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