Year one in review

December 12, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

December 3, 2018, this new council was sworn in. While each Council member was new to politics, none were new to the community. Business owners, managers, a former Fire Chief, Town staff member, current education leader, members of Service Clubs, community advocates and change makers, all long-standing residents of Orangeville. Before becoming councillors, we showed a commitment to the community and have since demonstrated that we also have the skills and compassion to lead the Town. 

As a team, we have made a considerable amount of progress in a short period. There is more to this list than just the achievements, though. There is a year of learning, education and working together that has formed this strong leadership group. 

Starting with a few friendly get-togethers, elected council members were able to introduce themselves. It quickly became apparent that each person valued respect, listening to residents and fiscal responsibility. This gave me great hope that we would be a Council that would not be distracted by personalities and would work for the residents. 

From Day 1, it became clear that a smart council relies on staff. 

We were greeted not like heroes, but like very green councillors, we didn’t yet know we were.  Staff knew. They knew we needed the rapid and complete training they provided early on. Staff explained processes, protocols, projects in progress, those waiting, how the Town runs, what their roles were, and what our responsibilities were. We learned the traditions of Orangeville Council and the importance of protocol to maintain decorum. 

It took some time to get to know each other, and all staff members, at every level have been friendly, informative and helpful to the council. They answer our questions, explore new and innovative ideas to make our Town more fiscally responsible and sustainable and are the front-line people who deal with the everyday tasks of running the Town. 

Taking our time to build the team would give us the start we needed. We quickly became a council that was focused on being respectful, sustainably minded and fiscally responsible, with a seasoned and knowledgeable staff to help us achieve our goals. 

Being Respectful: Each councillor shows up on time, ready to work and with their homework done. They ask thoughtful and insightful questions that demonstrate that they are connected to the Town, residents and the community. This makes for healthy debate in council chambers. 

Successes like the Community Safe Zone to implement reduced speed limits on Spencer Avenue and Alder Street, the Backyard Chicken Pilot Project launch, initiating the School Bus Stop Arm Initiative throughout Dufferin and the Pullen Well Acquisition to improve water supply are a few of the achievements that demonstrate this council’s commitment to respect and collaboration. 

Being Sustainably Minded: Orangeville’s population is projected to reach 36,490 by 2031, which makes planning and goal-setting imperative to building a strong community. More than just a buzzword, sustainability captures the challenges we face in infrastructure, economic development, climate change, and creating a healthy community. During 2019, the Sustainable Neighbour-hood Action Plan (SNAP) was completed. It provides goals, strategies and actions that will guide the Town towards a sustainable future, integrating the environmental, economic, social, and cultural pillars of sustainability. 

Seeking input into several key areas has led to creation of the Transit Task Force, Skilled Trades Action Group and Diversity and Inclusion Committee allowing residents, businesses and stakeholders a voice in decision making. Recently the Synchronization of Traffic Lights to improve traffic flow and the Upgrading of Traffic Signals at two Broadway intersections has been completed. 

Being Fiscally Responsible: The most controversial area of exploration is tax savings and providing value for your tax dollars. During this term of council, we will be having tough conversations about where and how to save on spending. Our goal is to gather as much information as possible – input from residents, businesses, staff and outside professionals to make informed decisions based on the changing needs of Orangeville. 

Starting with the 2019 Low Impact Budget to projected multi-million dollar cost saving by contracting OPP for police services,  Council did their homework – we studied the issues from all sides, we made an informed decision.   Each step of the process was transparent, advertised for public input and discussed in open chambers.   Decisions are made out of personal research, healthy discussion and then an individual vote. 

Growing a Healthy Community: Whether it’s celebrating at Jurassic Park North, bringing live council meetings to YouTube or providing forums for resident feedback and comments on large projects, this council is listening to residents and providing a community-first approach to decision making. 

I am proud to serve the residents of Orangeville and to be working with Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh, Councillors Joe Andrews, Grant Peters, Lisa Post, Debbie Sherwood and Todd Taylor. We have accomplished a great deal during this past year and look forward to continuing to strengthen our community. 

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