Looking to 2018
By Jenn Watt
Published Jan. 16, 2018
THE EDITORIAL at the beginning of each year traditionally is about the stories we’re anticipating in the year to come.
This year promises to bring some interesting changes to the Highlands.
Election year: We’ve got a double-whammy ahead of us – first with the provincial election on June 12 and then the municipal election Oct. 22. This presents opportunities for voters and for potential candidates. It’s likely there will be some
new people running for local government looking to shake things up, and some important issues to discuss. A community centre/pool will likely re-emerge as it always does during election time (at the local level) and provincially the effects of the recent minimum wage hike will likely take centre stage. Which brings us to ....
The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act: There was plenty of speculation about the impact these changes will have on our community and our province, but 2018 will demonstrate what these policies mean. In this county, small businesses have
been worried that the rapid increase in wage from $11.60 an hour to $14 an hour (and another $1 increase in 2019) would be untenable. Cutbacks at restaurants in Haliburton and Minden already began in 2017 in anticipation of the change. Other
elements of the act include changes to sick time, vacation pay and pay equity between part-time and full-time workers.
Public transportation: After consultation and lobbying for years, two possible transportation options were brought before county council in 2017. One proposed a set route for a bus to run in the county with scheduled pick-ups. Another was
scheduled pick-ups only. County council agreed to pay for a study done this year with the results ready for the next council in 2019. That doesn’t mean the new council will agree to a public transportation system, but it does give voters something to
ask candidates about ahead of the election.
Tackling bullying: Last year was marked by intense worry over bullying in the community. Special events were held on youth mental health and in 2018 we can expect more focus on improving conditions for kids and teenagers. The kindness
campaign launched by a local mom with Mathew Madlyn clothing is one example, and other programs, ideas and murmurs of a drop-in centre are all exciting prospects.
Skate park in Haliburton: This major project is on track to be open in the spring. An initiative to primarily benefit the town’s young people, it’s a positive step toward meeting their needs and creating infrastructure to attract and keep young
families in the area. Battle of the Bands helps pay for this $210,000 endeavour. Check it out on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the community centre in Haliburton (upstairs in the arena). Tickets are on sale now for $10 each at the Dysart municipal office.
(A positive note: last week, we wrote about the stray cat issues Haliburton would face with the closure of The Great Haliburton Feed Company. On Friday, we got the news that the feed company found a suitable new location on Mallard Road and would be staying in business. Yet the issue of how we manage unwanted pets still remains. As readers pointed out, it should not be the burden of a small business to handle the unwanted animals of a community. This is a wake-up call that we need to get organized – that could mean with policy from the municipality or perhaps the establishment of a fund to assist these animals in the long term.)