Central Huron takes a wait-andsee approach to 2017 while Huron prepares to tackle high speed internet
Following a challenging though positive year for Central Huron, its mayor, Jim Ginn, expects 2017 to be used to assess what options the town has in the years ahead.
“2017 will be probably a stand-pat year,” Ginn said following the regular county council meeting held on Jan. 4.
For 2016, financially, Central Huron met all of its obligations, he said, and council has already dealt with the “worst part of our budgets,” specifically pricing in policing costs. He added that last year also saw the ending of cuts to Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant s, which offer lower- tier governments stable funding.
“I think going forward it will be a little easier,” he said. “Our grants for infrastructure are increasing and will increase in the next few years.”
He said that when they finish paying off the debt for the solar panels that, too, will free up cash.
“I think the toughest budgets are behind us. Now, so going forward, we hope to be able to either reduce taxes or do more paving projects and provide more services to residents,” he said.
Whether Central Huron reduces taxes or paves streets will be a decision needed to be made by council, he said.
This new year, he said, will be an exciting one as the municipality is planning a big celebration to usher in Canada’s 150th anniversary on the weekend following July 1.
Also, there are projects, he said, to rejuvenate Clinton’s downtown park.
“Big plans for the renovation of the park in downtown Clinton with a splash pad, skateboarding park and pavilion put up. So we look forward to doing some improvements to the main street. And, also, we’re hoping to get out to the rural areas as well, the hamlets, and do some improvements there, too,” he said.
Ginn said he doesn’t expect too many challenges in 2017, though he hopes for a light winter so their snow- removal budget is kept at a minimum.
As warden of Huron County, Ginn said he is looking to bring high speed internet to the region, which he stated as one of his objectives when he became warden late last year.
“Internet access is the big one for me. I think it’s absolutely critical that we get high speed internet to all our residents so we’ ll be working hard on that one. That has got to be my number one hope that we succeed with,” he said.
He “hopes” council makes the decisions necessary in 2017 to put together a concrete plan for bringing internet cables to Huron.
He added that it will still be years before residents have access to high speed internet.
“Getting the cable in the ground is another story, but we need a plan on how we’re going to move forward with it. We need to get the funding in place and then we’ll have to go out and hire companies to install [ the cables],” he said.
Similar to installing hydro or natural gas, high speed internet is a utility that is difficult to implement in rural communities, but it needs to be done.
“We need to get it there in a five- year time span and I think it’s essentially economically as well if we’re going to attract small businesses. And I said before, we have a wonderful lifestyle here ... that people could come here and set up home business if we had those internet connections,” he said.
I think the toughest budgets are behind us. Now, so going forward, we hope to be able to either reduce taxes or do more paving projects and provide more services to residents. — Jim Ginn, Central Huron mayor and Huron County warden
Central Huron mayor and Huron County warden Jim Ginn.