I’d like to respond to the letter in the North Grenville Times from my friend, Steve Hammond. I attended the all candidates meeting on 2nd October and found it informative and well conducted, with clear respect being shown towards each other by the candidates. How disappointing, then, to read Steve’s letter which said little constructive, but took cheap shots at candidates who have a vision for North Grenville that includes the provision of facilities within a realistic fiscal framework which will encourage businesses and families to move to the area.
The singling out of Nancy Peckford and Kristen Strackerjan was particularly unfortunate; I find it hard to believe that they ever “demanded” money from the council. I, too, have attended council meetings and spoken regarding recreational facilities. Sometimes, as suggested by Steve, I have stayed for the remainder of the meeting and frankly I learned very little from the experience. Steve talks about disregard for the taxpayer, and perhaps this has been the case in the past; however, at the recent meeting, all participants were clearly very aware of the financial issues and the need for any development to be undertaken within fiscal constraints. I found it quite depressing that some candidates seemed to have no vision beyond the admittedly important need to manage the budget. If it was left to them, the development of North Grenville would grind to a halt.
While I take Steve’s point about some exposure to council business and budgetary matters being valuable for candidates, it is not essential if the candidate has other relevant experience. Frankly, for many potential candidates their time would be better spent in the community than sitting through council meetings where they can have very limited input.
At the candidates meeting, much was made of the need to support local small business, which I applaud. However, council also needs to look at attracting businesses from further afield, for example from the burgeoning Ottawa high tech sector. We have space and housing that is more affordable than in Ottawa, but what we don’t have are social facilities to attract young families who are the future of our community. A couple of arenas, trails and a park don’t cut it. At the other end of the age spectrum, we have older residents, such as myself, who, in the next few years, will be looking to move from our rural property into an urban area. Kemptville could be on the list, but not unless facilities improve to match those of some competing communities.
What we need is a Council and Mayor with a vision for the future of both urban and rural North Grenville to be enacted within a sound fiscal framework, preferably without resorting to the 2% year on year property tax increase. More power to you Nancy Peckford and Kristen Strackerjan.