Augusta Township Council bids farewell to Councillors who will not be returning
Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka
Of all the aspects of politics, elections are the most bitter‑sweet part of the experience. Elections are sweet because it is so rewarding to be out meeting voters to verify their interests and their priorities. Voters don’t want so much to hear about what you’ve done in the past term if you’re an incumbent, rather they want to hear what you plan to do and what you think your chances are of succeeding. Your message has to have universal appeal or the pool of electorate who’ll vote for you will be limited. Also on the line is your character and credibility. Elections are also sweet because it is so exhilarating to win. It means you have created a bond with voters and now you have to deliver. On the flip side, elections are so bitter when you are not successful especially if you’ve work so hard for residents during the past term of office. The hard lesson learned is the cliché, that the electorate is always right.
On that note, Augusta Township held its last regular meeting of Council for this term. Fittingly, the Agenda was short and gave me an opportunity to highlight some of the notable accomplishments of this Council, to offer my personal observations on how this Council conducted itself, to thank staff and to individually thank Council members who would not be returning to Council. In terms of the accomplishments of this Council, I cited the following as examples: Council: managed to keep taxes low, around to the 2% level, on successive budgets; cleaned up its Municipal Drains and have an ongoing municipal drainage maintenance program; commissioned and approved a master fire plan to guide the Municipality in the future and address the replacement of Station 1 in Maitland; commissioned and approved a master recreation plan that provides the municipality with direction in the years to come and has resulted in the establishment of a sport equipment lending facility thanks to the cooperation of our Township Library. In connection with this file, a Youth Advisory Community has recently been established to engage youth in our Township and to get their ideas on how to make the Township receptive to their needs; addressed the question of Development Fees and decided not to adopt them; assisted in the establishment of the St Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission and continue as full members; engaged the Township in a joint Counties Business Retention and Expansion Study; supported improvements to the Township Website and the Township’s venture into Face Book as a vehicle for keeping residents informed regarding Township matters.
I noted that when one talks about Council’s accomplishments, it is necessary to talk about staff. For it is staff who takes our policy, programs ideals and direction and makes them happen. On behalf of Council, I thanked CAO Ray Morrison and Township Directors and ask them to convey our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for their hard work to their respective staff.
In terms of how Council comported itself, I noted the respect, cooperation and friendship that this Council has shown each other and staff and, by extension, to the Community when discussing and debating issues. Experience has shown that no member of the public wants to hear of its Councillors constantly bickering. This Council has had its differences of views on a few issues, but we always resolved them in the Council room and left the rooms as friends. It was very evident to me throughout this term, that members of this Council wanted only what was best for the community and achieved this by coming to meetings prepared, by debating issues with an open mind, and by following‑up on issues to ensure Council’s wishes were met.
I ended by thanking each member of Council for their individual accomplishments. Deputy Mayor Bill Buckler was thanked for Chairing the Economic Development and Tourism Committee (EDTC) of Council for 4 years. The EDTC is essentially responsible for everything to do with economic development including Augusta’s annual Business of the Year event, the annual Mayors’ Breakfast event, and the annual Business Showcase. In addition, Deputy Mayor Bill Buckler represented the Mayor at functions when I was unavailable to attend and played a key role in the replacement of the Fire Hall in Maitland as part of the Steering Committee. Council Adrian Wynands was thanked for his dedication to Community and individual resident causes. In addition to his role as Councillor, he Chaired the Planning Advisory Committee and sat on the Augusta’s Library Board as the Township’s Liaison member As Chair of the Grenville Federation of Agriculture, he also headed up projects that brought funds to assist the Food Bank and Connect Youth in their work. It was noted that Councillor Don Conklin came to Council with 2 passions. One was to advance and facilitate recreation in the Township and the other was to make Augusta Township the best it can be. I thanked him for acting as Augusta’s liaison to the Recreation Associations in Augusta Township for 4 years and for taking a lead on all things Recreational, Culture and Sports in Augusta. In turn, each of the Councillors thanked staff and colleagues and bid their farewell.