Strathroy-Caradoc mayor on priorities with new council

The locked front door of town hall is more than just symbolic, according to mayor-elect Colin Grantham.

“The number of people who complained about the front door not being open to town hall. It’s a real thing,” said Grantham.

He said first thing on the agenda that coincides with his vow for more transparency, accountability and direct communication with the people of Strathroy-Caradoc was to get that door unlocked. Issues of accessibility and security would be resolved, he added, saying there should be a way to keep the side door open as well for people who could not climb the front stairs.

“You think of any other city hall, town hall, public institution, the front door’s open. I mean it may be difficult to get in, but it’s open,” said Grantham.

After that, he wants to sit down with Adelaide Metcalfe to hammer out a deal on servicing Centre Road (see story on page 14). Grantham believes this will save money on legal fees, as will delaying what he described as an eventual land deal to bring the surrounding Adelaide Metcalfe land into Strathroy.

That money saved will go to infrastructure priorities already on the books. With those multi-million-dollar projects including an arena in Mt. Brydges, fire station in Strathroy and another new one moving the hall from Melbourne closer to Mt. Brydges, and the wastewater upgrade also by Mt. Brydges, Grantham wants to take a more proactive approach to avoid the confusion and what staff called “misinformation” circulating on the rumour engine of social media.

“Give an update. So on the [wastewater treatment facility], we said there was a problem in 2021, here’s what we’re doing. So that should be a big one: just give an update to the public.

“While you’re off there working, people are wondering what’s going on. That’s where there’s a void of information. So I want to almost over-communicate,” said Grantham.

Along with continuing social media messaging from the municipality, he wants to hold town halls.

“A lot of this we became a victim of the pandemic. You just got to get out there and communicate to people,” said Grantham.

The new mayor said there was an appetite for change this election, evidenced by his solid win at the polls with 4,032 votes to outgoing mayor Joanne Vanderheyden’s 2,682. But he did not want to, as he described it, “re-litigate” the election and looked forward to having more open discussion around the council table with incumbents and new councillors.

One way he thought that can be done is by talking about reports that come in from staff more thoroughly during council meetings rather than beforehand.

“If you’ve got a really sensitive question, OK ask that ahead of time. But if it’s a governance or a procedural question, just ask it in public. Sometimes the most innocuous question is the one that somebody (in the public) might have,” said Grantham.

Another top priority includes homelessness, which Grantham said he was surprised at how many residents were concerned about. On that issue, he wants to find a quick temporary solution, and said he will look to experts in this area for more permanent ones.

“The first group that contacted me after my initial interview back in February was a service group who wanted to do more. For lack of a better word they felt a little roadblocked in doing it, and I’ve never forgotten that,” said Grantham.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner