Looking ahead to 2017: local politicians weigh in
By Angelica Ingram
Published Jan. 3, 2017
The new year is a time for reflection for many individuals and the same can be said for area politicians, who have taken the time to look back at the accomplishments of 2016, and ahead to the goals for 2017.
The past year was a fruitful one for Dysart, said Reeve Murray Fearrey, who points to land acquisitions for future development options as an achievement.
“Previously we were not in a position to entertain proposals to create jobs and the economy,” he told the paper. “In 2016 we were able to keep a reasonably stable tax rate in spite of rising OPP costs, bearing in mind an already heavy burden on homeowners with hydro costs.”
Another success for 2016 was the creation of public committees of council, a request Fearrey said came from the community.
“We created a new ball [diamond] facility at Glebe Park and we worked to create an interpretive shoreline restoration site working with CHA [Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations] at Sam Slick Park,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2017, the reeve said Dysart will be moving ahead with a “badly needed addition to the municipal building, a skate park and improved drainage in the general area.”
He also points out the community of Harcourt will get a new community centre, following the fire the destroyed the hall at the end of 2015.
The reeve also highlights some infrastructure projects coming down the pike, such as the replacement of Paddy’s Bay bridge and potential funding for the Fort Irwin bridge.
A long-term outlook for the municipality includes a revitalization of main street Haliburton that includes mixing residential units with commercial ones, said Fearrey.
“In the next five years I foresee some major tear downs and renovations happening on Highland Street. Small stores will continue to struggle and need to be replaced with combined commercial and residential units. More specialty shops supported by residential incomes to make them viable, and there will start to be an influx from waterfront retirees wanting accommodation in town,” he said.
Highlands East Reeve Dave Burton also reflected on the past year and what was accomplished in the eastern part of the county.
He pointed to long-term financial planning, strategic planning, council visioning and committee accomplishments as some of the standouts.
Burton also named the newly created information centre, which promotes mineral collection and geocaching, as a highlight of 2016.
Looking ahead, Burton is hoping the coming year will see some of the visioning and long-term planning start to take effect.
“This will begin moulding our decision making moving forward,” he told the paper. “We also have quite a few programs and procedures currently in development that we would like implemented for 2017. These include a solar installation policy, sewage inspection and maintenance program, short-term accommodation policy and a grant system for private roads.”
A five-year outlook for the reeve includes reviewing the municipality’s fire department, dealing with many retirements and hopefully having high-speed Internet and cell service throughout Highlands East.
If Burton could have one wish granted by a magical genie, it would be for “residents to be safe, healthy and happy. As well as infrastructure funding to address all infrastructure needs along with sustainability.”