January 1, 2023

The end of the year always leads me to reflections on the past and hopes for the future. October marked the passing of the baton from one term of council to the next. I am grateful for the tremendous service and dedication of Councillors Brady and Roberts.  They will be missed in the Council Chamber.  The start of 2023 sets the stage for new goals and “dreaming big” with Councillors Aragona, Card, Carty and Crapper and I anticipate great discussions.  Our municipal staff continue to make me proud as they deliver essential services with professionalism and dedication to our growing Village. 

I am humbled and honoured by the trust the voters placed in Council. Going into my third term as Mayor, there is a sense of excitement flourishing from the past years of hard work and effort from the whole village.

Although COVID is still a threat – we are all finding ways to return to many of the activities that we enjoyed before March 2020.  Despite the winter storm on Christmas Eve, many of you celebrated the holidays with loved ones and friends after two years of lockdowns.  Relieved as we are to be moving on, it is important to remember the countless community volunteer initiatives and the sharing of open and generous hearts.  Collectively we kept the safety blanket around Westport.  We have so many things to be grateful for, including our family, friends, and neighbours.

Providing services to the community had its challenges in 2022,  the third year of COVID, but our team still managed to help the Village make enormous strides.  Looking back, we continued our annual improvement of sidewalks, completing the north side of Spring St.  An Electric Vehicle Charger was installed in the municipal parking lot, an electronic information board at the Visitor’s Centre, well-water rehabilitation was completed, and several finger docks were added at the harbour.  A new Asset Management Plan was completed that meets the provincial government regulations for 2022 and 2024. Two bequeathments have generously been given to the Village.  One for a lift to be installed at the arena this spring and the other for the Serenity Gardens being built beside the fire hall.  We are very thankful.  

In June, the Village purchased a Junior C Hockey team, the Rideaus.  We celebrate and thank the coaching staff, the players, and all of the volunteers who have contributed to an outstanding first season.  Friday nights are once again spent in the WTC Communications Centre, cheering for the home team. 

Twenty-five homes have been built and sold in Watercolours of Westport.  The new families are weaving themselves into community life making Westport a stronger fabric.  Welcome.  We are glad you have made Westport your home.

The success of the next term of Council will depend on many things, including staying the course with COVID and meeting the inflation head-on.  The Strategic Plan will be reconsidered by this Council, the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan will get some traction, and the work on the Class C Environment Assessment and the Official Plan will be completed.  We are going to review how Advisory Committees were established in 2014 and consider new approaches to making them more effective.  This means that we need to find ways to connect, communicate, and appreciate the value of everyone who contributes.

I am reminded of the story of a US jet fighter pilot in Vietnam – Charles Plumb.  He had completed 75 combat missions when he was shot down. Plumb was ejected and parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years in a Vietnamese prison.

One day, a man came up to him and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” Plumb was confused and asked how the man knew about that. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb thought a lot about that man who held the fate of someone he did not even know, in his hands. 

We have important work to do in the Village – Council, business owners, and community members – working together. Many people will have a hand in “packing our parachutes”. This is the time to listen, recognize people’s efforts, and be kind. I look forward to what we can achieve and understand the importance of asking the question, “Who is packing your parachute?” (adapted from scoro.com)

On behalf of Council and Staff at Town Hall, all the best in 2023.

Mayor Robin Jones