By Jamie Mountain
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
TEMAGAMI – Broadband and cellular improvements and finalizing various planning initiatives are expected to take leading roles in Temagami in 2021.
Temagami Mayor Dan O’Mara said the municipality hopes to “have some good news” when it comes to rectifying its broadband and cellphone issues in January.
“I continue to work with the other 15 communities in our area to seek approval of some of the newly announced government funding,” he noted in an email interview.
“Applications are due in early January.”
Work also will continue on finalizing the town’s Service Delivery Review, Waste Management study and Strategic Plan.
“We plan on setting out some council priorities for the remainder of council's term,” said O’Mara.
“Work will continue to finalize our review of our Official Plan.”
TEMAGAMI DRY FUTURE
When it comes to economic development, O’Mara says Temagami hopes to have a new plan in place as to what it - as a community - is going to do with the Temagami Dry trademark.
“A small (ad hoc) committee has been set up and will be bringing something back to council, hopefully later in January,” he said.
The municipality purchased the trademark from Fortier Beverages of Cochrane in 2020 for $7,500 thanks to donations from people within the community.
O’Mara is hopeful that owning the trademark will provide the town with different economic development possibilities.
Continuing to meet and work with Temagami First Nation and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai “on a number of matters of joint interest” will also be a priority for Temagami in the new year, said O’Mara.
“We plan on continuing the work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to finalize a new land use agreement as it relates to the Temagami Access Point and landing,” he noted.
“The plan is to establish a joint corporation to take control of the Access Point, and manage it accordingly.”
O’Mara said a new area that the municipality is now starting to pay attention to is the need for additional land for housing lots and for the industrial park.
He said Temagami is seeing a lot more interest in people looking for space in Temagami and “we need a plan to address this.
“We also are seeing interest from businesses looking to establish (themselves) in Temagami and we hope to see something come of this in the new year.”
In terms of the budget, O’Mara said that the town hopes it can keep its rates down and find a way to deal with some of the pressures it faces.
“Dealing with the Au Château projected increase in municipal levy will be one of those challenges we will have to face,” he said.
Au Château is a long-term care home in Sturgeon Falls.
O’Mara explained that municipalities in Nipissing were required years ago to be part of a long-term care system, however, Temagami ended up supporting the home in Sturgeon Falls as opposed to North Bay.
“We do not have any residents in the home but are still required to support the home financially,” he said.
“We have been dealing with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care about this and want this changed.”
DEALING WITH COVID
O’Mara acknowledged that 2020 was “an interesting year” for the municipality.
He said that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will still create issues for the town but that they “hope this pandemic can end soon into the new year.
“The sooner the better,” he said.
“We hope we can remain COVID-19 free.”
When the pandemic hit in March, he said Temagami and council became “quite focused” on dealing with it.
“Meetings were cancelled and everything seemed to be put on hold until we found new ways to operate under the new conditions we faced,” he noted.
“The use of Zoom eventually did allow us to move forward. A lot of our focus in 2021 is following up on some of the things we started doing later in 2020.”
From an operating standpoint, O’Mara said Temagami is “holding our own” and that hopefully it will end the year with a small surplus.
“One positive thing that did emerge is the work our Emergency Control Group Coordinating Committee has done,” he said.
“Since March this group has been meeting regularly and has been monitoring COVID-19 as it relates to our municipality, 43 regular bulletins have been sent to date and they now have an extensive email listing that can be used for getting information back to our community members. As mayor, I want to thank everyone who has been involved with this work.”
Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker