Closing out 2016 and looking forward to 2017

There were many challenges/opportunities and lots of changes at Town Hall in 2016.  Here are just a few of them.

The disappointment in February when we learned that we had been refused the Ontario Community Infrastructure 2 Grant (OCIF) to finish the work on the new waste water plant was deeply felt by us all.  After taking a few deep breaths and writing letters expressing our concerns to the Premier and other Ministers, we took stock of our application and used this as an opportunity to prepare a stronger one for 2017.  We submitted the OCIF 3 grant application in November and hope to hear a positive response in late January/early February.

Our first Engineer, Mr Leslie Whiteman, decided to leave our team for a new opportunity.   We miss seeing him, his wife and beautiful children in the Village.  This created the opportunity for the Village to begin its relationship with Mr Max Christie, who has been our Manager of Infrastructure since May.  Max brings with him a wealth of water/waste water experience and a common sense approach to infrastructure related issues.

In November, we faced a challenge regarding incidents that occurred before this Council was elected.   On November 30th, I attended court when the matters in relation to charges laid against the Village in 2014 by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change were dealt with – a plea of guilty on one charge, all other charges withdrawn and a $10,000 fine.  Council used this as an opportunity to contract our water/waste water operations with Ontario Clean Water Agency.  With the court case just behind us and with a full understanding of the amount of regulatory compliance required for both the water and waste water systems, Council made this decision. The short term contract duration of six months will permit Council to undertake a thorough review of service delivery options before embarking on a long term operations commitment.  We wish Mr. David Wallond, who worked for the Village as the water/waste water operator since January 2014, the best in the future.

And finally, our Clerk, Mr Scott Bryce, has retired!  His last day was December 23, although you will see him in Town Hall over the next several weeks helping us out on a couple of matters.   Thank you Scott.  The best in retirement to you and Linda.

One of those matters that Scott will be helping us with will be to provide orientation and transition to our new CAO/Clerk.  Council is pleased to welcome Mr Paul Snider.  He brings with him years of municipal experience, currently working in Loyalist Township as their Clerk.  We are extremely proud that Paul has decided to join the Westport Team. Welcome home.  Paul and his wife, Heather, will be attending the Levee on New Year’s day.  Drop by and say hello.

So, that is a wrap for 2016. We know that there will be new challenges in 2017, however be assured that Council will continue to make decisions in the best interests of you and the Village.

On behalf of myself, Councillors Brady, Huth, Parliament and Schwinghamer and the staff from the Village, we wish you and your families a Happy New Year and a safe and prosperous 2017!