Tonight’s “Hop and Shop” was a wonderful event. Despite the rain, the Village was “hopping” as people were “shopping”. Lots of stores stayed open and the business owners I spoke to said it was a positive event for them. It takes lots of people to make something like this happen, but a huge shout out to Cynthia Pringle and Martha Kudrinko. Great leadership, ladies.
The Judges from the Westport Arts Council were out tonight, spending time in front of 18 businesses that had entered the “Windows of Distinction” competition. Yes, there is a winner – but you will have to wait until tomorrow when the announcement is made during the parade.
The excitement for tomorrow’s Santa Claus Parade, hosted by the Westport Lions Club, continues to build. The weather looks sunny and it should be a perfect day to join in or watch the parade. Many volunteers have spent time getting floats ready, practicing with their music and getting their costumes made. Come and join in the fun. It all begins at 2:00 p.m.
When the parade is over, the choirs from the Westport churches will be moving throughout the downtown singing Christmas Carols. Please sing along. The day’s Christmas fun finishes at 5:00 p.m. at the Museum, with the lighting of the Christmas Tree. Town Hall Councillors will be serving hot apple cider across the street from the museum.
Let there be no doubt, the Christmas spirit is alive and well in our Village.
I’m aware that many municipal leaders have questions about their possible involvement in helping to resettle Syrian refugees.
While many details remain to be worked out by the federal government, the overall plan is taking shape nicely. Let me share with you a few of the things we know so far.
We expect that the first wave of refugees coming to Canada will number about 10,000 by year end.
Of these the majority will be privately sponsored. These refugees will be settled and cared for by their sponsors.
A much smaller number will be government assisted. These refugees will be assisted by federally-funded Refugee Assistance Program agencies located in six urban centres: Toronto (serving the Greater Toronto Area including Peel, York and Durham Regions), Ottawa, London, Windsor, Hamilton and Kitchener- Waterloo. These communities account for about 90% of immigrant and refugee landings to Ontario.
We expect the government assisted refugees will be located primarily in those urban centres, to make it as easy as possible to provide them with services.
An additional 15,000 refugees are expected to come to Canada by the end of February 2016.
Ontario played a leadership role early on, with an additional $8.5-million in funding to help sponsors and settlement organizations. We continue to play a leadership role in helping to coordinate these efforts. Federal, provincial and municipal representatives are hard at work on pinning down more details and engaging directly with the municipalities likely to be most affected.
I’ve spoken with a number of mayors in the last few days and been overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity. Everyone is eager to help. This is a proud moment for our province and our country.
The federal government has established a website, Welcome Refugees [http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/index.asp] for up-to-date information. Ontario has also established a Syrian Refugee page [www.ontario.ca/syrianrefugees] with information on how people can help.
Our province has also established a central co-ordinating function here led by Joan Andrew, a very able former deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration. You can reach her at 416-325 4764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m very proud of the way our province is stepping up to show hospitality, and I’m grateful to all of you for your many efforts. As plans continue to evolve, I’ll do my best to keep you informed. And I or Joan will be happy to receive your suggestions and offers of resources as we go forward.
It has been 6 months since the new Council began its term and I was sworn in as your Mayor. The new Committees of Council were established in February and by March meetings were taking place. Many residents of Westport are members of the committees and I expect amazing things to occur with their valued input and efforts. The Committee of the Whole is a new monthly meeting of Council, a little less formal than Council meetings and is generally the 4th Tuesday and yes, it is open to the public.
In regard to the waste water plant, I am happy to report that we did not need to transport any effluent this year. Although we had a winter of freezing nozzles and pipe breaks, we processed enough effluent that our lagoon levels were lower this spring than in 2014. We monitored the lagoon levels daily and had a contingency plan in place to transport effluent if the lagoon levels rose beyond predetermined levels during the winter. We are in the process of getting the summer application equipment set up and will be operating under a Ministry of the Environment Emergency Order again this year to lower the lagoons to where they need to be for next winter.
The Village is also moving forward in providing a climate-proof, dependable waste water system and one that will allow growth for the Village. The first step is a process called a Municipal Environment Assessment (MEA). This is a prescriptive process, which is led by an Engineering firm with the assistance of a technical steering committee, which includes several Village residents. The Project Coordinator reports to Council on the progress of the MEA at each Council meeting this year. Please consider joining us at Council meetings to hear what is being proposed.
Council worked with a consultant this winter and spring to develop a Village Strategic Plan, a first for Westport. Many members of the business community and public were interviewed by the consultant for their input. A strategic plan helps Council prioritize its goals in line with the budget. The final plan will be shared with Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 23 at 7:00 p.m.
Winter turned into spring slowly this year so our “Pulling Together in Westport” spring clean up was held on Saturday, May 9th. Over 40 community members volunteered their time, effort and rakes to get the Village ready for the May long week-end and summer. Thank you to everyone who helped out. Watch for this to repeat in 2016.
Recently, village residents Bob Scott and Mark Herlehy approached me with a proposal to help the arena. They had done a review of repairs and improvements that need to be done. The “wish list” was well thought out, however as the Village has many other pressures, there is only a small amount of money set aside in the budget for repairs to the community centre. And this is when Bob and Mark offered their suggestion, which I accepted!
Those now using the facility or who have fond memories of time spent on the ice or in the stands might consider becoming a “Friend of the Arena” by making a donation. Donations made to the Village of Westport for arena improvements qualify as gifts for income tax purposes and the Village would issue receipts. All donations will only be used for this purpose. For further information contact Mark Herlehy at email@example.com. or Frank Huth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you enjoy a long, hot summer and that you spend time with loved ones. As always, if you have any questions, please contact a Councillor or myself.