Peterborough County mayors tell new councils provincial changes will require adaptation

In their inaugural addresses to new councils following the Oct. 24 municipal elections, both Mayor Joe Taylor of Otonabee-South -Monaghan Township and Mayor Sherry Senis of Selwyn Township commented on the need for their municipalities to adapt to provincial changes over the next term.

“Our priorities will be tempered and shaped by the actions of the province. We are hearing a lot about changes Ontario is making as it relates to planning and housing,” Senis said Tuesday.

There are many other changes “coming down the pipe” that will impact municipalities, including new policies around police boards, firefighter legislation, conservation authorities and recycling to name but a few, she said.

“We will have to pivot to deal with the changes,” Senis said.

In his address, Taylor also mentioned the impending adjustments.

“We are creatures of the province and the province is implementing some significant changes to municipal government,” he said.

“Perhaps the biggest change is occurring in the world of planning. With the passing of Bill 109, soon to be passed Bill 23 and whatever bill is yet to come, our authority over many planning decisions is being eroded,” Taylor continued.

Selwyn Township will be updating its strategic plan, recreation services plan, trails master plan, asset management plan and budgetary policy, Senis said.

“More broadly, there is a dire need for doctors, health-care workers and long-term care facilities in the province, including here locally,” she said.

“We need both the federal and provincial governments to step up and take significant measures to help alleviate the crises in health care.”

Taylor said Otonabee-South Monaghan Township will continue to build on the respectful relationship it has with Hiawatha First Nation.

It will also see two large projects move forward in the new year: the Crystal Springs water main replacement and Phase 2 of the community centre upgrade, while “the passing of our budget is the single most important decision we make annually,” he said.

But council shouldn’t take itself too seriously, Taylor told the new council.

“We are council members of a small rural municipality, not kings and queens of an empire,” Taylor said.

“This council’s strength will be determined by our ability to work together, understand our responsibilities and compromise when necessary. Let us stay grounded, remember our roots, remind ourselves of who we are and have a little fun in the process.”

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner