On May 25, the annual Mayor’s Address took place in Kemptville, hosted by the North Grenville Chamber of Commerce. Tina Murray, Treasurer of the Chamber and a local business owner, hosted the Mayor’s Address alongside fellow business owner Will Pearl. The event began with some background information and an update on the Chamber itself.
Several business owners were invited to speak about their experiences in local business. They discussed the perks of being a business owner in North Grenville, and the roads that led them to settle – or stay – in North Grenville.
Mayor Nancy Peckford was formally introduced with a brief biography, including the fact that she is originally from Newfoundland and Labrador, where her uncle served as Premier in the 1980s. Mayor Peckford moved to Ottawa to begin working as a parliamentary intern. She and her family moved to North Grenville in 2011, and she was described in the introductory statement as a “force for change in the local political landscape” when she chose to run for Mayor in 2018.
Mayor Peckford was welcomed to the podium with heavy applause. She joked that she has trouble remembering whether she is “mayor mom” or “mom mayor”, talking about her three children and sharing tidbits about each of them. “Being able to raise children here has been a fantastic experience,” said the Mayor. “I don’t think I can overemphasize how meaningful it has been to raise kids in a small town much like I was raised in… I’m really grateful every day for the incredible caring and the commitment and the energy and the vitality of this place, and it certainly has given me a lot of motivation to serve you since 2018.”
Mayor Peckford took the time to introduce Deputy Mayor John Barclay and various members of the municipal staff team. She explained that Councillors Strackerjan, Wilson, and O’Sullivan were unable to make it to the event due to other commitments.
One subject that Mayor Peckford spent time discussing was growth in the Municipality and how to properly manage growth. She explained that to better unite the Municipality, there are plans to hold Council meetings in locations around the Municipality in the months ahead, moving them out of the traditional location at the Municipal Centre in Kemptville.
Something that Mayor Peckford is proud of is properly preparing for the anticipated local residential growth. An example she provided was upgrading the municipal sewer system in Kemptville. She emphasized that lifestyle quality must not be sacrificed due to the Municipality’s growth, and that there is a need to focus on the “Play” facet of the municipal slogan “Live. Work. Play.”
Another topic of discussion for the Mayor was the International Plowing Match, and its importance both for attracting visitors, and for celebrating the agricultural character of North Grenville. She also took the time to congratulate the many, many locals who take the time to help and support each other, which she feels is part of what makes North Grenville a great place to live.
In her concluding statement, Mayor Peckford emphasized the need to balance residential and commercial growth. “We know that growth is good, but we also know that what this community needs is a lot more local employment opportunities that are meaningful and well paid that will build on some of the leadership provided by businesses in this room,” the Mayor added. She discussed what she sees as the seven most important economic development pillars for North Grenville’s near future:
- County Road 43 bridge and road expansion project
- Critical investments in road safety
- Business supports
- Leveraging the potential of the Kemptville Campus
- Bringing rural transit to North Grenville
- Rural growth (balanced growth)
- Increasing serviced commercial lands in North Grenville
After the Mayor’s speech, she answered questions from residents. Finally, the meeting ended with recognition awards for long-serving local businesses including Grahame’s Bakery, which has been in business in Kemptville for an incredible 138 years.