At the council meeting in Merrickville-Wolford on September 9, Mayor Doug Struthers announced the council liaisons for six Committees of Council. Although councillors have the opportunity to put their names forward, it is ultimately the mayor who decides which councillor will sit on each committee.
Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron says he is disappointed that a Wolford representative was not selected for the Community Development Advisory Committee, as he feels Wolford should be the focus when it comes to necessary sustainable growth in the municipality. During the presentation of the municipality’s Official Plan at the beginning of September, Village Planner, Doug Grant, told council that, with the current lots available for development in Merrickville, the water treatment plant is at capacity. This means that the Village itself will not be able to expand and hook up to the water and sewer system until the plant is upgraded, something that the planner has said the municipality will be unable to support for the next 20 years. “The real potential for growth is in Wolford,” Deputy Mayor Cameron says.
The Deputy Mayor believes the key to attracting more people to the rural area is roads. He says there are currently about 48km of dirt roads in Wolford that are not sufficiently maintained. “We just keep putting band aids on them,” he says. “Some of these roads needed to be upgraded 10-15 years ago.”
With a proper tar and chip program in Wolford, Deputy Mayor Cameron hopes that landowners will be more inclined to sever and sell their large properties, and developers will be attracted to build homes in the area. He believes that slow, methodical growth that they can plan for and control is the key to building a sustainable future for the municipality. More residents mean a larger tax base and more money to invest in things like infrastructure for the Village. “It’s a common-sense approach, and something that hasn’t been done,” he says. “The water treatment facility should be a focus after population growth.”
Mike Cameron is aware that upgrading all the roads in Wolford will take time and significant financial investment. This is why he has been focused over the last few months on ensuring municipal staff are aware of, and are applying for, any federal and provincial grants that might be available. At the council meeting of September 9, Mayor Struthers told the Deputy Mayor that it was not respectful, and “borderline derogatory”, that he continues to ask staff about applying for grants.
“I will always represent my constituents, and if people have a problem with me bringing things up, that is on them not myself,” Deputy Mayor Cameron said in response.
The Deputy Mayor believes that council needs to start planning further down the road to make sure Merrickville-Wolford remains sustainable into the future. With the provincial government constantly looking for “efficiencies”, he believes that the municipality needs to prove their case if they don’t want to be swallowed up by a larger city or town. “Taking charge, and moving forward ourselves, ensures that we are keeping the wants and needs of the municipality close to heart,” he says. “We want to become the artist and paint the picture ourselves.”