Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday December 30, 2012

New Year’s 2013

Another year completed in Midland – but are we making progress towards our becoming a prosperous, balanced and sustainable community where all citizens can enjoy a high-quality of life?

Our backdrop for 2012 presented some formidable challenges:
  •  A slow economy that continues to hamper local businesses, depress our real estate market and discourage  quality job creation. This is compounded by senior governments cutting back on loans and grants to municipalities
  • A municipal cost structure that is unsustainable – resulting in projected annual tax increases of 4-7% for the foreseeable future
  • A community that benefits from a growing population of active seniors and but suffers a diminished population of young singles and families – all in, near zero-population growth

Challenges to be dealt with but……

How Did We Do in 2012?

While there were some set-backs in 2012 most of the developments were positive:

  1. Despite philosophical divisions, Council came together to deliver a 2013 budget in the 1% range, just above the 0% target.  Positively, most departments hit the 0% target.  Fire and Police still require some work. (Note: 2013 budget yet to be finalized)
  2. The Council mandated KPMG study sets the stage for further service efficiencies and tax increase control over the next three years. 
  3. Council also made service adjustments and cuts, something many Councils are loath to do.  Council decided to move some funds from superior services such as snow plowing and grass cutting to new areas such as improved LED street lighting and waterfront planning.
  4. Midland made good but limited progress on efforts to manage its economy. The miniscule $5.000 budget was leveraged into a new area economic website and promotion. More importantly tourism, a portfolio where attention was greatly needed, was reinvigorated under the aegis of Mr. B. Peter.
  5. The Midland Cultural Centre opened in our midst. I may be biased but the MCC is arguably the greatest physical cultural asset that we have. Properly developed it will significantly contribute to our quality of life and prosperity. Our collective thanks to the Weber Foundation.
  6.  And not to be overlooked, the many services that everyone in our community relies upon continue to be delivered in a safe and professional manner.

What’s Likely for 2013?

2012 laid the foundation for service levels, budget and economic development.  2013 will build upon that base.

  1. Expect continued focus on budget discipline.  Tax rate increases should remain about 1% (inflation) for the next 2 years. 
  2. Expect further adjustments as municipal service levels are balanced with our taxpayer’s ability to pay. Labour negotiations will be interesting as we move from an era of 2.5% - 7% increases to one of 0 – 1.5% increases.
  3. There will be further change in our local employment situation. Zellers will close in the spring with the loss of some 100 jobs. On the positive side, a number of our larger employers, both established and new to Town, will be hiring in 2013.  In net we should be adding quality jobs.
  4. We  will increase our efforts for landing more employers and jobs. There will be increased direct contact with existing and potential employers. The “Unimin waterfront plan” will be completed. More events, including “Tall Ships” and “Tugfest”. The potential for a “business incubator”, to kick-start small business formation. Tourism will be better coordinated – look for more private sector involvement, including links to the Keewatin. And lastly expect more focus on improving high-speed internet access to our Town.
  5.   Look for the Town to develop a housing strategy to ensure we have the housing stock and amenities to match our needs, especially those of our aging population.  We will be partnering with the County in this initiative.
  6. We will participate in a Youth Engagement strategy with the YMCA, to identify youth interests and build ways to engage youth in the future of Midland.
  7. And as for our seniors, the Seniors Council has taken an active lead with their new “seniors strategy”. I expect to hear more from then in the near future.

A lot needs to happen in 2013 to keep us on the road to “quality of life”.  And it won’t happen unless each citizen does his/her part.  So your first question in 2013 should be “What can I do to help make it happen?”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday December 23, 2012

T’was the last post of Christmas for News from the Town
Readers all smiling, n’ary a frown
The budgets and by-laws are all stuffed away
The problems of 2012 are forgotten this day

With a new mantle of snow, the tree and some lights
The family, the turkey – all wondrous sights
Nothing remains that could add to the cheer
But to wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday December 16, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s very difficult to focus on Christmas when we are still trying to fathom the gun tragedy in Newtown. Our hearts go out to our American neighbours. We will all gather our children and loved ones more closely to us this holiday season.

Monday December 17th at 7:00 pm is Midland Council.  Another long agenda but with all sorts of interesting items:
-          Three presentations including the annual Awards of Merit and the 2013 budget. (The budget will only be passed in part as the Police Services budget, currently at a 5.6% increase, will be held over to the new year.)
-          Three deputations including one by Out of the Cold and a discussion on low water levels in the Great Lakes by Mary Muter
-          A Public Meeting to obtain input on transit and planning fee changes
-          Direction to set up a Public Meeting to gain input on allowing stores to open on three more statutory holidays.

Host Fred Hacker interviews Jerrold Karch live on stage at the MCC at 7:30 pm on Tuesday December 18th.  Jerrold grew up in Midland and the conversation will reflect on Jerrold's experiences as a young man in a Jewish family in the Midland of the 1950s and 1960s.  The theme of this edition is  'Growing up Jewish in Midland ….. and Other Anxieties'.  Jerrold is an actor, an author, an educator, a raconteur and a very amusing guy! Tickets available at the MCC.

Wednesday December 19th at 11:00 am at the Mountainview Mall the Salvation Army kicks it’s Toy Drive into high gear.  Then at 4:00 pm at Town Hall is the meeting of the Police Service Board.  Discussion items will include:
-          The 2013 budget
-          Traffic congestion at Leitz Rd and Yonge St.
-          A presentations on improving community safety (at 6:00 pm)

Then Town business really starts to gear down for Christmas. The Town offices will be closed starting Monday December 24th until January 2n. And if you are planning on shopping downtown this Saturday, look forward to being entertained by the caroling Vox Huronia.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday December 9, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

Do you remember that scene from Bing Crosby’s ” White Christmas” where they are all waiting for the snow to start…well...It’s beginning to look a lot like Midland.  In the meantime enjoy Midland without the pleasure of overshoes and shoveling driveways.

Last week the Huronia mayors met about our Bay’s declining water levels. An additional 15 Georgian Bay mayors have contacted us all with similar concerns. We will now work with our respective Councils to develop a common request for assistance that should go to Ottawa this spring.

On Monday December 10th your Council meets at 6:30 pm in closed meeting to discuss matters about an identifiable individual.  Then at 7:00 pm is the December General Committee meeting.  A long agenda including;
-          Decision on an all-day downtown parking pass
-          Discussion on allowing stores to open on Good Friday, Thanksgiving and Family Day
-          An update to our closed meeting procedure and handling of confidential documents
-          Decision on what we will do about the County’s plan for leaf pick-up in 2013
-          Introduction of our Winter Roads Plan (our service level for keeping the roads and sidewalks clear this winter)

On Tuesday December 11th at 1:00 pm in Midhurst we elect the Warden for the next 2 years (Cal Patterson by acclamation) and vote for our Deputy Warden, either Gerry Marshall, Penetanguishene or Harry Hughes, Oro Medonte.

The Chamber Christmas party is set for Wednesday December 12th at 4:00 pm at their offices on King Street.

You are invited to join me on Thursday December 13th at 3:30 pm at the Georgian Bay General Hospital as they break ground for their new ER expansion. Then at 6:30 pm Stellula Music hosts its Christmas dinner for volunteers and friends at the MCC.

On Friday December the 14th, you are invited to Community Living Huronia’s volunteer appreciation party at their Olive Street location starting at 1:00 pm. 

Saturday:  Come down to the MCC between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to be entertained by the antics of Huronia Player’s “Three Scrooges” as they accept donations for the food bank. At 1:00 pm you are invited over to Penetanguishene as Habitat for Humanity opens its new home at 87 Peel Street.


Next week we should put most of our 2013 budget to bed. At this point all of our departments are showing a zero percent cost increase over 2012, except for Police.  The Police Service Board has asked for a bit more time to try to meet Council’s target.  Police aside the budget increase, once approved by Council, should come in just above zero per-cent to allow for some money to be devoted to economic development.

The budget discipline started in 2012 will have to continue for the next few years. The slow economic recovery and the reduction in Midland jobs are still impacting our community.  We have done a lot in this budget year to start to position us for the future.  My thanks to Town staff and to you the people of Midland for helping us with these tough decisions. Your Council remains dedicated to ensuring that Midland will be able to sustain its high quality of life for many years to come.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday December 1, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s official. After receiving my hug from Santa at the Santa Claus parade, the festive season can now begin.

Two events in keeping with the spirit of the season occur on Monday December 3rd.  The YMCA holds its annual Gifts to Give at the NSSRC from 9:00 am – 11:00 am.  Individuals who cannot afford to buy presents for their families this season are invited to come out and select from quality donated items.

The Salvation Army Christmas Food Drive runs from Dec 3rd to 14th.  One of the drop-off locations is the Edward Jones Midland office at 525 Bay St, during office hours. The food bank is looking for non-perishable items. Please check the Best Before date before donating.

Wednesday December 5th is Planning and Development Committee at the Town at 7:00 pm.  A lengthy agenda including:
-          Site Plan application for the BINN property on Hwy 12
-          Consolidation of parts of 623, 627, 631 and 635 Sixth Street to ensure future purchasers are aware of development requirements
-          Review of our Site Plan application process and planning fees
-          Discussion of enhanced public notice for planning matters
-          A template for a future tree cutting by-law

Thursday December 6th is the National Day for Remembrance and Acton for Violence Against Women. Our Rosewood shelter will be holding a commemorative event starting at 6:30 pm at our Library.

On Friday December 7th, the Midland Area Reading Council invites you to enjoy their seasonal social starting at noon at their new premises on Dominion Avenue.  Later that day your Huronia mayors will gather to discuss our next steps to assist those affected by low water levels on Georgian Bay.

Two special events for Saturday December the 8th:
-          The Midland Curling Club us hosting a Special Olympics curling event at the Midland club starting at 9:00 am
-          The Midland Heritage Committee asks you to join them for a Victorian Christmas. Tour a number of festively decorated home from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Tickets are $10.00 at the Town.

Gord McKay

Be part of Midland’s exciting Year of Having Fun - 2012.