After being in office for just over a year, Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Doug Struthers is very happy with how council and staff are working together to make sure that the municipality is a great place to live and work.
Mayor Struthers is still keeping an eye on changes at the provincial level, particularly with the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which may not be around for much longer. “Municipalities are children of the province, and decisions have an impact on municipal taxpayers,” he says. The province said municipalities will receive OMPF dollars as “transitional funding” for 2020, but have not committed to anything beyond that.
Like many other municipalities in Ontario, Mayor Struthers says one of Merrickville-Wolford’s primary concerns is looking after aging infrastructure in the Village. The municipality has already started working on stopping infiltration that is affecting their water treatment system. “We are very cognisant of our infrastructure and having the dollars to address it going forward,” he says. “This is no different than any other municipality.
The Mayor is very happy with the process of decision making that happens through staff reports and around the council table. “I am proud of what staff have brought to us,” he says. “They are serving council, but also serving the residents of the municipality.”
He is also happy with the way council is making decisions for the Municipality. Council has had many discussions, and even disagreements, around the council table, but, in the end, they have always made sound decisions and given clear direction to staff. “There isn’t any confusion for staff when they put it into play,” he says.
It has also been a very proud year for the Municipality, winning top prize in their category in the Communities in Bloom competition this Summer. The Mayor spent some time with the judges, and he was able to highlight the policies and procedures that are put in place to ensure a beautiful, clean and tidy community, but also a happy and active one. “They were amazed at how many people get involved, and how many opportunities there are for our residents,” Mayor Struthers says. “We know how to play above our weight level.”
Looking into next year, Doug hopes to continue to govern in a way that highlights the vision and values of the municipality that is outlined in their strategic plan. He would also like to see residential growth that will help ensure financial stability in the municipality, which includes individual housing and larger projects. The budget is also something that is top of mind moving into 2020, and he says council is looking forward to working with staff to create a solid and sustainable financial plan for the new year. “We want to set the table to have a healthy business, residential and agricultural community,” he says.
He believes that what really makes Merrickville-Wolford special is its people, and he values the ideas of the people who live and work in the Municipality. “The reality is we can do anything, but it may not happen tomorrow,” he says. “It is important to take a deep breath and look around. Merrickville-Wolford is a great place to live and work.”
Mayor Doug Struthers would like to wish all residents and business-owners all the best this holiday season. “On behalf of council, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.”