Council has its work cut out for it this year

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by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

North Grenville’s Council is in for a year of tough work, if all commitments and promises made in 2021 are to be carried out in 2022. Perhaps one of the biggest commitments this Council has made is to take action when it comes to the availability and affordability of housing in North Grenville. Mayor Peckford’s Task Force on Affordable Housing produced a final report early in 2020, and some housing projects have been spearheaded since then. What is clear, however, is that the housing problem is far from being resolved, with the most recent public engagement session on housing having occurred on January 17.

Another issue which Mayor Peckford, in a conversation with the Times, assured would be looked at in 2022 is that of a doctor shortage in the Municipality. Late last year, Mayor Peckford said that the process would include discerning the extent of the problem with her Council colleagues, and taking a look at the new demographic data from the 2021 census, which is set to be released in stages throughout 2022. Even with a clear picture of the extent and nature of the local doctor shortage, attracting additional doctors will not be easy, since doing so often necessitates moving them in from other areas, which raises ethical concerns and necessitates incentivization.

As part of routine business, Council will also be tasked with deliberating how to disperse Community Grant funding in response to the funding request presentations that were made in late November. Several hours of presentations were heard by Council over a two-day period, so it will be a labour intensive process, likely filled with strong viewpoints, to determine which community groups and organizations deserve money, and how much.

These examples only scratch the surface of what Council will be faced with this year as it works to wrap up work from last year, and tackle new work put before it as the year progresses. One significant project that will undoubtedly make its way into the Council chambers for discussion is the proposed provincial correctional facility that is slated to be built on the land of the former Kemptville College in the coming years. The proposed prison has divided many Kemptville residents, and even residents of other North Grenville communities as well, with opposition groups fighting against the project, and many residents sporting lawn signs urging that the project be cancelled. Mayor and Council have been heavily criticized by some locals, and especially by the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) for not doing enough to fight provincial officials and keep the prison out of Kemptville. The Mayor has maintained that the project cannot be stopped, and she has, instead, focused on finding ways to minimize the impact of the project on locals. As with all government decisions, no matter what course of action is followed, Council’s every move this new year will be sure to have both supporters and dissenters.

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