Ladies and Gentlemen
Happy New Year. It’s great to be back with you for 2016.
2015, Midland’s “Year of Bold Action” is now behind us. And yes there was bold action. My top three for Council were:
- Continued focus on reducing municipal costs by doing things differently. Council authorized a shared Building Services and a Fire management arrangement with Penetanguishene, saving both communities money. Council and the Police Service Board made the tough decision to outsource dispatch services for Fire and Police. Looking forward, Council recommitted to an OPP costing plus working towards a more robust business model for our MPUC
- Council, after considerable consultation and debate, approved the use of a small part of Edgehill Park for a much needed downtown health centre.
- And while it may have gone through quietly, Council has entered into an agreement with Penetanguishene to start an inter-urban transit service. Another sign that Midland is maturing.
Midland citizens also took bold action.
- 60 area men took a pledge in front of their peers to End Violence Against Women. Look for more action on this front in 2016
- Jeff Fillingham launched a one-man crusade to bring an accessible taxi to Midland and in so doing won the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Champions Award
- Cody Oschefski, as a person, launched Little Lake Park’s first Floatie Fest
- Barb Rowlandson led us to our 3rd successful Butter Tart Festival attracting some 40,000 visitors and a whole lot of media attention
- Fred Hacker launched Midland’s first Cultural Awards ceremony, formally recognizing the wealth of talented people in our area
- Barry Goode and Elizabeth O’Connor organized the community to welcome for our first Syrian refugee family
So (…deep breath…) it’s time for 2016. My top five to watch in 2016 are:
- Increased economic activity in Town including plans for our new high school; ground work starting on the new 1,400 unit Hanson development; refurbishment of the Mountainview Mall; noticeable changes to the downtown as we start to implement our Downtown Master Plan
- Improved service quality from all parts of the Town as we put in a number of new measures, including the “municipal dashboard” ,a reporting tool that shows you how we are tracking against financial and customer service targets
- More activity on the Midland Bay Landing property as the financing situation gets resolved
- A decision on whether we stay with our own police service or go with the OPP
- A change in the governance of our MPUC. Maintaining high service levels and no increase in distribution costs are essential. However, our MPUC must change to respond to the significant restructuring already occurring in the electricity sector.
The stage is set. Midland’s future success awaits. The only thing lacking is for each and every one of us to get aboard. It is time to put away the “glass half empty’ view of life or the “One person can’t make a difference.” excuse and seize the opportunities. So my challenge to each of you is to choose just one thing that will make our Town better and then get out there and make it happen. 2016 is your year for getting aboard – Midland’s moving.
A quiet first week in the Town as we tuck away the Christmas leftovers. Monday January 4th 2016 will see the raising of the Crime Stoppers flag at Town hall at 11:00 am.
On Wednesday January 6th, the four mayors and senior staff will meet to discuss North Simcoe taking a leadership role in bringing the digital economy to our area. Specifically, we seek to enable the installation of fibre optics to most of the residents and businesses in our area. This is a major infrastructure discussion with a lot pf challenges ahead. Then at 6:45 pm, welcome the Masters Provincials Curling Championship to Town with opening ceremonies at the Midland Curling Club.
Thursday the 7th features a closed meeting of Council at 6:00 pm to discuss our labour negotiation objectives for the next few years. At 7:00 pm OPSEU will hold a meeting at the NSSSRC to discuss a possible strike at CNCC.
Council Issues Update
Being properly engaged requires you to be well informed. To help out I am starting a “Council Issues Update” section in News from the Town. It will key on a few major long-term issues and let you know how they are developing. Hopefully this will quell some of the fascinating rumours that follow most of these issues and give you the facts needed so you can better understand the challenges faced by Council.
The budget is going into its third round. It is currently tracking towards a 0% increase in operating expenses. In parallel to the budget process, Council was also considering some additional structural changes to operations that impacted the budget. The last budget meeting stopped this parallel track and directed all recommendations come forward as one financial/operations plan in early 2016. The budget process should wrap up in February/March.
Midland Bay Landing
Our contract with Mountain Ridge Estates remains in place and is being respected by all parties. The Chinese partner, responsible for financing, is currently restructuring the project finances. All project work - site work and design - is on hold awaiting the financing. According to the contract site remediation work needs to be completed by March 2017.
Council has held a number of public and closed meetings on this topic. Council is currently developing its long term objectives for any potential merger/sale. Any request for interest from another party is unlikely before February
Council has just reconfirmed its interest in pursuing an OPP costing. Council is now awaiting a response from the OPP.
Downtown Health Centre
Council has approved the rezoning of the site. A group of citizens has appealed the decision to the OMB. While no date for the OMB hearing has been set, it is unlikely before spring. The OMB process removes the decision from the Town. The OMB will decide what will happen with the site.
Your Year for Getting Aboard – Midlands on the Move - 2016