The last six months have been busy ones for Midland Council. It’s time to provide a checkpoint on how we are doing. While progress is normally measured against targets, your Council is still working on its strategic objectives. So the following observations are my own and reflect on the major items that Council has had to deal with in 2011.
Council Decorum – All Councils take time to “settle in” as they get used to the job and the people they will be working with. We are no exception. The first three months were somewhat challenging. Over the second three months Council decorum improved markedly to the point that the media coverage has turned from Council behavior to the issues we are working on. There is civility around the table, good debate and even a few laughs. We are headed in the right direction.
Budget and Taxes - Setting the 2011 budget and tax rate were two of the first challenges handed the new Council. Your Council tackled the issues by holding two special meetings to ensure matters were debated. In the end
ended up with a 2011 tax rate increase of 0.8%, one of the lowest rates in recent years. Midland
Taxis - Your Council brought back the taxi by-law and voted to keep the flat fare taxi system. Public input and Council debate were well done.
Heavy Waste – The citizens of
want a heavy waste transportation solution. Waste services are delivered by the County. Your Council got creative and petitioned the County to allow Midland to become the site for a heavy waste transportation pilot. We are currently awaiting a response from County. Midland
Regular Business – Much of Council work is the “regular business” of passing by-laws that affect everything from purchasing vehicles, to community gardens, to reducing geese populations in Little Lake Park. In addition, your Council responds to residents, researches briefing material and collectively participates in over 35 committees. Council is still on a learning curve to do all of this work efficiently.
In addition to items already on the docket, your Council has also taken on some major new initiatives.
Council Strategy – Your Council initially took some time to warm up to the idea of setting a Council strategy. Over the last two months, Council has met three times to agree on strategic objectives. All Councillors have actively participated in this important exercise that will guide our work in the years ahead.
Joint Police Service - In response to a request from Penetanguishene, your Council has agreed to joint discussions on having a new police service covering both Midland and Penetanguishene. Decisions over the coming months will determine how this moves forward.
Urban Growth Node - Your Council voted to move ahead with the Urban Growth Node – an initiative that will see the Towns of Penetanguishene and
Midland work together more cooperatively. Over the last five months your Council together with Penetanguishene have lead three Town Hall meetings, established an Efficiency Task Force and adopted the implementation plan. Good progress.
Economic Action - Council has joined with our three neighbouring municipalities to determine what we should be doing about economic development. The work to date has led to a set of principles for cooperation and a draft economic strategy and action plan. Council will shortly decide on a course of action for economic development.
The foregoing are my observations about Council. They do not address the work of our staff and community partners which has been considerable in keeping Council informed and on track. In summary, good progress for the first six months. The next six should be even more interesting.