Our community is comprised of residents from all walks of life, with talent and energy to give, helping us to collectively achieve our goals. Many of our most significant projects could benefit from input and assistance from the hundreds of volunteers who call Collingwood home. Let’s reinstate citizen committees for every major portfolio - Recreation, Arts and Culture, Housing, Economic Development, Transportation and Climate Change - with every committee chaired by a member of Council who becomes a specialist and an advocate around the table.
Housing that is affordable for everyone must be a high priority for this next term of Council. We cannot sustain our businesses or our employment base without it. Our Housing Affordability Task Force brought forward a comprehensive set of recommendations and action items with their recommended immediate priority to on-board a Housing Specialist, now completed. Our new Official Plan will assist with a made-in-Collingwood road map to ensure that we are creating new opportunities for many different types and sizes of housing, for rent and for ownership. I want to be a leading member of a strong council that will use all the tools available to ensure we increase supply as quickly aspossible - facilitating secondary suites, new financing and land banking schemes, and using our Servicing Capacity Allocation Policy to incentivize developers to build a wider array of new housing. We must tap into the federal and provincial money that is available now for the creation of affordable housing. Most importantly, we need to call out NIMBY-ism for what it is and eliminate it as a factor in decision-making.
The COP 26 Resolution to achieve NetZero by 2050 involves every level of government, starting with municipal. Collingwood’s declaration of a climate crisis in 2019 must now be followed with an ambitious and achievable Climate Change Action Plan and a commitment to achieving Net Zero emissions in Collingwood by 2050. It is incumbent on all of us to make concrete changes in the way we live, eat, move, build and grow.
We must create measurable targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for 2030, 2040 and 2050 Make no mistake, climate change costs all of us – not just in the impacts we see and feel, but in real dollars – consider the catastrophic shoreline damage at Sunset Point and flooding that occurred during the 2021 storm events! In addition to making sure the infrastructure in which we invest is effective and resilient, we must step up protection of the green infrastructure provided by woodlands, wetlands, watercourses and other elements of our natural heritage system. We must challenge developers to build sustainability into their projects.
As Councillor this term, I supported the elimination of a further 30 per cent the Town’s debt while increasing revenues and streng thening our reserves. This was accomplished even while reducing the municipal tax rate year-by-year, with a modest increase in 2022 forour COVID recovery budget. Collingwood now has a long-range financial roadmap, and with the right Council we can see our way clear to investing in the community by providing more and better services, without burdening taxpayers.
We will have some important decisions and a responsible plan to make on some big-ticket items in the not-too-distant future – the continued development of the new water treatment plant, implementation of the Waterfront Masterplan, and the pressing need for an all Arts and multi-use recreational facility. Let’s make sure we plan…SMART!
Arts and Culture are one of the 5 pillars of the Community Based Strategic Plan. They are a crucial part of the fabric of our town and very important to our residents. At long last, we have completed the Collingwood Arts Centre Feasibility Study, paving the way to refining the scope and planning for the establishment of an Arts Centre. I want to work with our community to bring this project to fruition. Covid 19 got in the way of almost all of our most important projects, now it’s time to move forward.
I want to see all of our most significant capital projects get done - The Terminals redevelopment, the Harbourview Park Waterplay Park, and material advancement, even completion of an All Arts Facility and a Multi-use recreational facility. We have the studies, we have the masterplans, we have reserve funds set aside - Council needs to work as a team and hold itself and staff accountable for real progress on these projects. (Photo credit Stefano Stacchini )
These past two years have been tough on all of us - we are frustrated with lockdowns and health mandates, with inflation, wage insecurity, supply chain issues. It seems like nothing is changing and nothing is getting done. People are angry, people are negative. I choose to remember what we have here… a jewel on Georgian Bay with 4-seasons’ worth of activities to take advantage of, thriving businesses - both large and small, great schools, and great services. We as a community have taken affirmative action against racism, and we recognize and embrace our diverse people and cultures and we embrace inclusiveness. We are a growing community with a strong tax base, and financial status that is the envy of hundreds of municipalities in Ontario. Let’s build on the positives, build on our incredible strengths and move forward with energy and optimism!