A new beginning at Town Hall

December 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments

A real sense of optimism filled the air this past Monday at Orangeville’s Town Hall as the municipality’s brand new council received something of a hero’s welcome at their official inauguration ceremony.

Seven new names, seven new faces and, perhaps most importantly, seven new minds, each bringing with them a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertize encompassing a wide range of specialties and subjects. Indeed, there may yet be hope for a community that has been forced into stagnation over the past four years.

To some, stagnation might be considered unfair. After all, Orangeville’s previous council does hold a few notable accomplishments. Reserves have been bolstered, roads have been repaired and a new rolling five-year plan has done wonders for the municipality’s annual budgetary process. The Town’s sewage treatment plant finally received the facelift it has long required, while the eight new faces down at the Orangeville Fire Department ensures the community is protected 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in case of emergency.

We could continue with our list, but the fact remains there’s only one thing this past council, led by a polarizing mayor in Jeremy Williams, will be remembered for. And it’s not a good one.

The total inability for the members to work together as a cohesive team consistently undermined any concerted effort to address issues and improve the community. One need only look at the debacle surrounding the piano issue on Broadway as evidence that even the simplest situations could not be resolved amicably. It was as if a sickness had set in at council chambers and had been allowed to fester and rot away for months and months and months until, eventually, there was nothing left. The team was, essentially, gone. Instead, we were left with a collection of individuals pulling themselves in all different directions for the betterment of no one.

The end result of four years of in-fighting and bickering is a feeling of lost opportunity. What could have happened if this council had simply put their differences aside and pulled together? Unfortunately, we the public will never know.

What has been left behind are a myriad of complex issues that are not going to be solved overnight. The most important of those issues is taxes. Residential taxes are excruciatingly high in Orangeville, the highest across the entire GTA in fact. And with the Town’s five-year plan calling for rates to jump a further 20 percent by 2022, something’s gotta give. There are already murmurs across town that long-time residents are being priced out of the community. People are leaving because they can no longer afford to live here. That is a failure at the municipal level, one that surely has to be rectified over the next four years.

And if there’s anything this next council can provide, it is hope. It was refreshing to see what appeared to be a united front on the stage at the Orangeville Opera House on Monday. While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, each of the seven members elected to sit on Orangeville’s next council were saying the right things about not only wanting to work together, but needing to work together.

There is a sense, and it has been said on many occasions, that Orangeville got it right on Oct. 22. We hope that is the case, because the community cannot afford another failure. These next four years are pivotal in establishing what kind of a community Orangeville is going to be, not only for today’s residents, but for generations to come.

Our new council has a gigantic job on their hands. If Monday’s inauguration was anything to go by, they may have succeeded with step one, which was getting the community back on side.

It’s perhaps poetic that this new council will meet for the first time on Dec. 10 in brand new council chambers. A fresh start for all. A short and direct message to you, now, councillors. We, the community, need you to live up to the hype.


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