NEW YEAR’S DAY 2021

Happy New Year and hope many of you join our Special Guests for coffee at 11:00 today. If you need the invitation, pls email CAO Paul Snider at psnider@villageofwestport.ca.

Here is the Mayor’s New Year’s letter:

January 1, 2021

Dear Westport Residents and Business Owners

To say that 2020 was stressful is an understatement.  Beginning on January 8 when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle “quit” their jobs as “senior” royals, January 9 when W.H.O. announced that a deadly coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China, January 26 we learned of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter in a helicopter crash.  Other significant events were the impeachment of Donald Trump, the rape conviction of predator Harvey Weinstein and the wave of both peaceful and violent demonstrations and riots across the world to demand an end to police brutality and racial injustice.  These all affected us in Canada, in Westport.  But none as much as COVID-19.

We have been locked down, masked, moved through phases of relaxing government rules and now in lock down for another period of time.  I have seen how hard all our residents and businesses have worked to keep the safety blanket around Westport and successfully prevented COVID-19 putting down roots while helping keep Westport open. Thank you Westport for being creative and willing to innovate during adversity. I am so blessed to be your Mayor.

One of the last pieces of business for your municipal government was to reach a satisfactory mediated settlement with the contractor who built the waste water system (LSSDS).  We strongly disagreed with the quantum of the last payment demanded by the contractor.  At the end of the day, in December the Village was only required to cover the cost of the additional sand necessary to complete the LSSDS.  Well done, team.

As this tumultuous year comes to a close, let’s take a glass-half-full view and focus on some promising developments heading into 2021.

For those who keep their focus on the environment, the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two.  Several studies indicate that emissions have declined by around 7% in 2020. This has shown us that we at least know what is possible.

Hooray! vaccines are here – General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier is responsible for the distribution  plan and logistics.  He has acknowledged that the general population should expect to have access by May 2021.

For Villagers, there are many exciting plans this coming year.  We have received a $100,000 grant that will be used to replace & repair sidewalks and/or make them Accessibility for Ontario’s with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliant.

The reconstruction of Bedford St will be completed in 2021.  The tender closes in mid-January.  We will keep you informed about the when and the how.

We are wishing our Treasurer/Deputy Clerk, Ms Anne-Marie Koiner, well when she retires at the end of March.  Lots more to say about that later.  It does mean that there will be a change of staff at Town Hall.  The advertisement for Treasurer/Deputy Clerk is posted and closes January 15.

Westport’s need for growth and increase to the tax base is a similar story in many rural municipalities.  When I moved here a decade ago, I used to brag that I was resident number 623, having been informed that before I moved here the population was 622.  The most recent population count for our Village now stands at 590.  Land Ark Homes, owned by Mr Stephen Rolston, is making the much needed growth a reality with the planned residential development in the “Derbyshire” property and the “Rice” farm at the north west end of the Village.  This will be a busy year for Council, as the subdivision planning process from beginning to end requires many meetings, briefings and decisions.  Some public meetings are mandatory either by the developer or the municipality.  Notices of these meetings will be posted in the paper and certain affected residents will receive personal notices.  Mr Rolston expects to have the sales office open by July 1st.

I want to leave you with this story about a 7-year old hero from Tennessee.  After he and his family had gone to bed on December 8, the house soon filled with smoke.  The parents could only rescue two of their children, their 22 month old daughter was trapped. Seven-year-old Eli saved his baby sister’s life when he jumped into her room through a window to rescue her.  Eli later said, “I thought I couldn’t do it, but then I said, “I got her, Dad.'”

We are stronger together in the Village.  Stronger because we have Westport spirit and Canadian Courage. “I got her, Dad” – let that young hero’s words be a reminder to us   just what is possible when we support each other.

On behalf of Council and Staff at Town Hall, Happy New Year and all the best in 2021.

Mayor Robin Jones