Continuity is key for acclaimed TLTI mayor

·3 min read

Continuity is the priority for Corinna Smith-Gatcke, who was recently acclaimed for a second term as mayor of Leeds and the Thousand Islands Township.

Smith-Gatcke's motivation to run for her first term was to rid the township of the political theatre, as she calls it.

“There was a lot of fist banging, a lot of controversy, and it was overshadowing the things that needed to be done,” she said. "The drama was not necessary. I can honestly say in four years time there's been zero drama. If you're doing your job, doing the right thing and keeping your head down, and I’m not saying that everybody agrees with what we’ve done, but we’ve done it to the best of our ability, we’ve done it collectively, we’ve done it at consensus. We’re all there for the greater purpose and our egos don’t get in the way.”

The motivation now as she heads into her second term as mayor, having already been acclaimed as of Aug. 22, is to continue on with the momentum the township has gained during the last four years.

"We've got things stabilized at the municipality, meaning we have the (staff), they’re working together and we’re moving ahead with certain projects and there’s more projects that will come forward,” she said.

"Sometimes when you have a change of leadership the momentum gets lost and there’s a learning curve that goes on, but luckily for me because I was acclaimed, I know that we can continue to move forward without missing a beat regardless of who is around the council table."

Smith-Gatcke was a little surprised no one else ran for mayor on Oct. 24, but she views it as a vote of confidence in her work.

"I'm grateful," she said. "I take it as people thinking that I’ve done a good enough job, that returning me or not challenging me was the answer at this point. I take it as a positive thing."

She said she’s proud of what council has done over the last four years.

"It's one of those things that there's certainly no rule book or manual they give you when you start out, but we saw some unprecedented times, obviously, with the pandemic, which again didn't come with a manual or rule book," Smith-Gatcke laughed. “We had a really great four years. The previous council was quite tumultuous."

The most difficult part, over the last four years, was the transition the township made from being dependent on the funds received from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) year over year, Smith-Gatcke said.

At the end of July, OLG made a gaming revenue payment to TLTI for a total of $296,468 for hosting Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands. The payment is for the first quarter of 2022-2023, from April 1 to June 30.

This payment remains low, when considering the money coming in during the days before the pandemic, but that has become the norm during COVID-19.

"The good news is we had started that transition (away from counting on OLG payments) prior to (the pandemic), so we were in good financial shape, and we came through (the pandemic) without having a deficit, we managed the funds appropriately and still managed to keep things moving in the township," said the mayor.

The township is looking at major infrastructure projects in the near future – a firehall that's going to be constructed in the Seeley’s Bay area, at the corner of County Road 32 and Highway 15, and the Ivy Lea Wharf project, to name a few.

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times