Augusta Township’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee holds inaugural meeting

Augusta Township’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee holds inaugural meeting

Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka

Augusta Township’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee (EDTC) of Council held its inaugural meeting on Monday, January 7th, 2019.  The Committee is chaired by Councillor Tanya Henry and Committee members appointed by Council on December 11, 2018 to serve for the 4 year term of Council include: Gary Albers; Lisa Severson; David Annable; Judi Baril, Karen McDonald‑Hurley, Graham Houze, Mark Primeau and Wendy Onstein.  The Mayor sits ex‑officio on all Committees of Council.  The first order of business on the Agenda for the newly appointed EDTC was to review the terms of reference for the Committee.  This review was timely for numerous reasons.  For example, the principle focus of the EDTC in past years has been organizing the annual Mayor’s Breakfast, the annual Business of the Year Award and the annual Business Showcase in partnership with the Town of Prescott and Edwardsburgh-Cardinal. While these business retention and expansion measures are important for supporting industry and commerce in the region, they have required EDTC committee members over the years to expend a great deal of volunteer hours and energy in organizing them.  While the EDTC is not advocating abandoning these projects, there is a need expand the Committee’s role to include other priorities.  One such priority, is to better represent the business retention and expansion interests of farm operations and agri‑business carried out in our Township and another is the importance of broadband communication for industry growth of all kinds.  Another motivation for the EDTC to review its terms of reference is the recent increase in the number of organizations currently having a role in economic development and tourism in the region.  These include: the St Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission (SLCEDC); the Bio‑Industrial Innovation Center (BIC); and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville (UCLG) Economic Development Directorate.  While the UCLG Economic Development Directorate has played a leading role in the past, it, along with the Municipalities, must now do their part to ensure a seamless operation of the various entities pursuing economic growth in Leeds and Grenville.  The discussion on terms of reference were invaluable and will assist the EDTC in its endeavours over the coming months and years.  I would just add to this that during my past election campaign I committed to: inviting a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) to come a make a presentation to Augusta Township Council and key staff on the OFA document entitled, Agriculture Matters – a Guide for Municipal Councillors and Staff;  to have a resolution passed at Counties and the Municipality that ensures that all aspects of county and municipal road transportation infrastructure work in the future will facilitate farm operations and farm equipment while the work is being performed and afterwards; and to establish an Augusta Township Agriculture Advisory Committee.  The EDTC considered how this agriculture advisory committee could be structured, whether part of the EDTC or a separate Committee, and will further deliberate on the matter after the aforementioned OFA presentation.