I’ve been knocking on a lot of doors during the past few months and when someone asks me what my platform is, I’ve said “you’re helping me create it right now!”. This is usually followed by a funny look and then they share their concerns. I estimate that I’ve knocked on over 200 doors in the municipality and these are the concerns I’ve heard and therefore, our platform:
There is serious concern, that we are growing too fast and losing our small town feel. I agree. I moved here to raise my son in a small town and to find that feeling of being ‘home’, which I’ve found. We need to slow development down so we have the infrastructure in place and ready, instead of adding it after more people and businesses have moved in. This increased demand on existing infrastructure has a big impact on current residents and can be very frustrating.
Our roads and streets need attention. We’re a large municipality and need good roads to keep us connected. Like Canada, our population is spread out and we rely heavily on transportation to take us to the places and services we need.
We also need to protect what makes us unique, such as our historical buildings, Ferguson Forest Centre, the South Branch, and Kemptville College, so that we can enjoy them for years to come. A place without a history, is a place without a soul. As well, our places for recreation are essential to the health of residents of all ages.
People are concerned about downtown Kemptville and so am I. However, I believe there’s hope. Filling downtown vacancies should be a top priority, along with more signage directing people to downtown.
More parking is needed with more signage to tell people where to park. A walkway from Riverside Park out to Prescott St would help too. Residents can do their part by supporting local businesses in downtown Kemptville and everywhere else in the municipality.
The municipality should encourage local businesses to expand, as well as trying to attract new businesses. If local businesses are thriving, other businesses will want to come here. When local businesses succeed, local job opportunities grow.
Residents in the hamlets aren’t happy. They’ve seen services and facilities disappear since amalgamation. The municipality should encourage community associations to buy historic buildings like Maplewood Hall in Oxford Mills and the library in Burritts Rapids. It’s the right thing to do. Forgiving property taxes for these buildings would allow community associations to use their money to benefit residents. We need the hamlets to know the municipality cares and understands how important they are to North Grenville’s success.
Communication comes up multiple times. Some residents feel that some municipal staff ignore their emails and phone calls. Some residents want more information about public meetings and how the outcome will affect them. As well, they want more notice for meetings and they want council to listen more. We should be exceeding provincial standards for transparency and communication, not meeting them. Improving communication should be a high priority for council. Transparency is critical to building trust with residents and we have to restore that trust. I want to see an end to special council meetings that get scheduled right after previous meetings, so that something can be voted on and passed quickly. It looks like something is being hidden, even if it isn’t. I’d also like to see an end to 4:30pm meetings that are too early for residents to attend.
Kemptville College is another concern. Although, the province will decide the college’s fate, the municipality is creating a plan to convince the province that the municipality could operate the college until a permanent solution is found. I believe the college is critical to the future of economic development in North Grenville. It could supply continuing education and specialized training to help people start businesses, learn farming and re-train for new jobs. Businesses want to go where there is an educated workforce.
There are more issues needing attention, but this is a good start.
So, thank you to everyone who contributed, this is our platform. Now, I need your help and your vote, to get to work on these.