Outgoing Norfolk mayor touts accomplishments

Kristal Chopp is leaving the mayor’s office in Norfolk County with her head held high.

Chopp presided over her final council meeting on Tuesday after being defeated in her bid for a second term. She told councillors they should be proud of putting the county on a more stable financial footing – a process that involved making “horribly politically unpopular” service cuts and closing county facilities.

“But make no mistake, the decisions had to be made,” Chopp said, adding that when she took office, the municipality was on a “clearly unsustainable” economic trajectory due to depleted reserves and “years of creative accounting.”

“When we started, this place was nothing short of a financial mess,” she said.

Council discovered deficiencies in the county’s water system that necessitated a development freeze until a plan was formed to expand local water treatment capacity and bring in more water from Haldimand.

“When that is completed, development will be back on track,” Chopp said. “There will be water security to allow growth for the coming years.”

During her sole term as mayor, Chopp said she and council moved a number of projects ahead “after years of debate,” including repairing Misner Dam in Port Dover and the Long Point Causeway bridge, capping a leaking gas well on Forestry Farm Road and bringing high-speed internet to all parts of the county.

There is now a capital asset management plan in place, Chopp said, along with policies to avoid future financial pitfalls and conflicts of interest when awarding procurement contracts.

“Those are some pretty big accomplishments over a term of council,” she said, noting how much progress was made in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In closing, Chopp thanked county staff, her council colleagues and Norfolk residents for their support.

“I literally knew no one when I arrived in Norfolk County, and the people I’ve met along the way are really the best part of the entire experience that I’ve had,” she said.

“Good luck to the new council and to mayor-elect (Amy) Martin. It’s a tough job but it’s an important one.”

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator