Meaford mayor ex­pect to see growth over term

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - NEWS - SCOTT DUNN

Meaford Mayor Barb Clum­pus sees a bright fu­ture for her com­mu­nity, with growth and new op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the next term of coun­cil.

She set out her pri­or­i­ties for the next four years dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony for the in­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil ear­lier this week.

She said to a mix of new and re­turn­ing mem­bers that coun­cil will be­have with “dig­nity, in­tegrity, and re­spect for all.”

She said she views the elec­tion as an af­fir­ma­tion of the di­rec­tion that coun­cil has taken over the past four years. She vowed to con­tinue fo­cussing on en­hanced in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing on roads and bridges.

She promised coun­cil would en­cour­age more se­niors hous­ing and hous­ing that is at­tain­able -- that is, af­ford­able to peo­ple on mod­est in­comes but not sub­si­dized -- as well as more long-term care.

“Build­ing per­mit statis­tics in­di­cate an­other record year of res­i­den­tial growth which will share the prop­erty tax bur­den and en­cour­age new busi­nesses,” a copy of her pre­pared re­marks said.

She cited big projects to com­mence next year: a new school, ren­o­va­tions to the fu­ture li­brary lo­ca­tion, and the re­con­struc­tion of the Sykes Street bridge.

In an in­ter­view Thurs­day, Clum­pus said coun­cil al­ready al­lo­cates 2 1/2 per cent of its op­er­a­tional bud­get to fix­ing roads and bridges. There’s an es­ti­mated $40 mil­lion in road re­pairs alone to catch up on and so that work will be on­go­ing, she said.

She said that will re­main af­ford­able by keep­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion costs “well be­low the in­fla­tion­ary rate” by adding in any “ex­cess revenue” to­ward that work, along with a “mod­est tax levy in­crease an­nu­ally” and fed­eral and pro­vin­cial in­fra­struc­ture grants.

Coun­cil will try to di­ver­sify the stock of hous­ing in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, she said.

She noted there’s a big de­vel­op­ment com­ing “on our radar” at Christie Beach and an­other by the golf course in Meaford which will ad­dress the need for smaller, more af­ford­able homes. Rentals and mul­tires­i­den­tial will be en­cour­aged too, Clum­pus said.

There are pro­vin­cial and Grey County in­cen­tives for “at­tain­able­hous­ing projects” and Meaford hopes to use them.

“Are there ways we can en­cour­age this type of de­vel­op­ment from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s per­spec­tive? It’s a chal­lenge, there’s no ques­tion about it. But we’re start­ing the con­ver­sa­tion and mak­ing sure that we ex­plore ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.”

Ten­ders for con­struc­tion of the new JK-12 school in Meaford will be let early in 2019, with build­ing com­ple­tion ex­pected in time for the fall of 2020.

Clum­pus said the ren­o­va­tion of the for­mer Food­land gro­cery store into new quar­ters for the Meaford li­brary will al­low lots of nat­u­ral light in, of­fer more meet­ing space and be more ac­ces­si­ble for ev­ery­one to en­joy the books and com­puter ac­cess, clubs and pro­grams run there.

She un­der­stands there’ll be a fire­place and com­fort­able chairs too. The cen­tury build­ing the li­brary calls home will likely be de­clared sur­plus, Clum­pus said.

Coun­cil will face a big de­ci­sion soon on whether to al­low re­tail mar­i­juana shops within the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Clum­pus said she ex­pects coun­cil will make a de­ci­sion at its Jan. 7 meet­ing. The pro­vin­cial dead­line to de­cide is Jan. 22.

There’s an on­line com­mu­nity sur- vey on Meaford’s mu­nic­i­pal web­site which asks whether to take ad­van­tage of this opt-out pro­vi­sion and which also asks why or why not.

More than 700 re­sponses have been re­ceived so far, a high num­ber, re­marked the mayor, who wouldn’t dis­cuss de­tails of those re­sponses, which “we will have to take into ac­count” when vot­ing.

She said the re­sponses will help coun­cil un­der­stand the com­mu­nity’s con­cerns about al­low­ing pot shops to op­er­ate in Meaford.

“Com­ments that come for­ward will help guide us in terms of what do we need to do in or­der to sup­port the de­ci­sion that we’re go­ing to make,” Clum­pus said.

FILE PHOTO

Meaford Mayor Barb Clum­pus.

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