Thanks Chamber and thanks WI and thanks to you for coming this evening
- I retired from my Oil Industry Project Management career in 2009 and since then the County has been home for Audrey and I and our close family. I have been a Ward 3 Councillor since 2018, and for 4 years prior I served on the Committee of Adjustment.
- My first term on Council has been a learning process – an apprenticeship! I better understand the needs and wants of our community and local businesses, how provincial legislation both guides us and also limits our freedom of action, and how Council works in practice. I have been Chair of the Planning and Development Committee, Chair of the Board of Health, and member of numerous Committees. With my apprenticeship served I believe I can be more effective in a second term.
- Despite the impact of the Covid pandemic much has been achieved this Council term of which I am proud: my top picks are the Cowan Community Health Hub, some major road upgrades, “tapping the brakes” on new residential development approvals, introducing Brant Safe Streets Strategy, and important and necessary planning for the future. Budgets were managed within inflation limits and Service levels maintained and expanded where appropriate. And I want to give a shout out to County staff – they are a great group of people who work very hard to support our community.
- Looking forward, 4 big issues will challenge the new Council: Development, Infrastructure, Affordable housing and road safety. I address these items in detail in my campaign literature (see http://www.johnbellward3.ca) so tonight just a few takeaways and with a Paris focus:
- Since last election Ward 3 has grown by 800 homes and 2000+ residents – a 35% increase. Rapid Residential development will continue in this coming term. Major Industrial and commercial developments will though be directed along the 403 corridor. I will continue to act to moderate the pace of development. But I will not be surprised if the Province pushes for even more and faster residential growth.
- More Infrastructure is needed. Roads infrastructure development will shift to North Paris. The Downtown Paris Master Plan, crucial to the continuing viability of downtown, will be implemented and work will begin on doubling the Paris waste water treatment capacity. But be aware, these major activities will be disruptive and despite good planning patience will be needed by us all.
- Changing topics slightly – demand for affordable housing far exceeds supply – the new 49 unit Trillium Way addition is a great step forward but much more is needed.The challenge of providing truly affordable housing falls to the municipal and not for profit sectors – County Council, working with the City, will play a vital role.
- And finally – Road safety – where pressure for action continues to grow. increased budgets are needed to allow us to step up our game – on implementing automated speed enforcement and on more physical traffic calming measures.
- The next 4 years though will also be about realizing opportunities. Examples include working with neighbouring municipalities on issues such as transit and social services, and leveraging County’s strong Financial capacity to deliver additional community facilities such as a new main branch library, additional sports facilities and a new Paris Seniors Meeting place. We should also build on our arts, culture and natural heritage.
- Final thoughts
- Councillors must be responsive to issues raised by residents – at the same time Councillors need to have thick skins! Commentary and opinions can be colourful, occasionally misinformed and often pointed – especially on social media.
- But Council’s actions must always serve the best interests of the whole Community. Sometimes that will mean you may not like the outcome locally – To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln “ You can’t please all of the people, all of the time”.
- I always respond to your issues and give you my full and honest attention. I can’t guarantee that the outcome will always meet your expectations.
- You can be confident in re-electing me.
- Thank you.
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